Like you, we are watching the global coverage of the Coronavirus outbreak with interest and concern. While there is yet to be a case in NZ, in an address at the CECC in Christchurch this week Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr reminded business that we need to be looking at what we are doing to prepare for potential disruption.

Preparing for a pandemic is different from other significant events like earthquakes for example, due to the isolation required and the potential duration of the event.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has the following recommendations for organisations looking to prepare. They indicate you should;

  • Allow workers to telework, if feasible.
  • Be prepared to allow workers to stay home if someone in their house is sick.
  • Increase space between people at work to at least 3 feet, as much as possible.
  • Decrease the frequency of contact among people at work.
  • Modify, postpone, or cancel large work events
  • Postpone or cancel non-essential work-related travel.

Ensuring your team has the tools and resources to deliver critical functions external to the office is key. While you may have a current practice of flexi and mobile working, we think that the duration of an event of this type requires special consideration and preparation to ensure your team can be effective for a sustained period of time.

In order to Telework (work from home) we believe you need to consider;

  • Either having company laptops or a clear BYOD policy that enables your team to work on their personal devices with confidence.
  • The ability of your team to access email, files, and key applications.
  • Microsoft Teams or alternative video conferencing and chat-based applications that enable them to call, hold virtual meetings, collaborate on documents etc.
  • That your phone system is enabled to make and receive calls away from the office environment, or that an alternative communication approach is sought.
  • If your team has a requirement to collaborate extensively, that business-grade headsets and webcams (if not built into laptops) are on hand.

In addition to this you might consider;

  • Holding spare devices that you can deploy in the event of a hardware failure.
  • Transitioning from Office 365 licenses to Microsoft 365 in order to have Autopilot configured. Autopilot allows us to drop-ship hardware to any location and configure your new device remotely without a technician needing to come on-site. Thus protecting your team and ours.
  • Assessing the critical functions your team performs and ensuring those people are equipped from an IT perspective to be able to continue to deliver at the level that they need to. This may influence the mix of tools you deploy.

Critically we have found that the best preparation is practice. We recommend that you adopt a practice of rotating key staff home to ensure that they are comfortable with their home set up, and are able to perform key functions of their role with ease, prior to any event.

We recognise that every organisation has a different environment and that it is difficult to predict the impact an event of this type may have. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.