As a business, we have a responsibility to keep in touch with our clients and to ensure that they are fully aware of what we are doing at this time.
In order to keep you, our clients up-to-date, we have been doing the following:
- Communicating regularly as developments happen
- Calling all clients to deal with individual challenges
- Running webinars with client firms
We will continue to communicate through those channels to designated members of client teams. If you wish to be included on these communications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This brings us to a wider group of interested parties who need to understand what is happening and our preparedness for this:
- UK and Australian Staff
Our UK and Australian staff are now operating remotely and accessible by phone or e-mail to support all firms. Our normal operating procedures allow them to work remotely in a very secure manner.
- Indian Staff
There are two major concerns we have with our Indian office, ensuring that our staff stay safe and in good health, and ensuring that we can provide continuity of services to our clients in a secure manner.
The welfare of our team is very important to us, and we are doing all that we can to minimise infection risk whilst continuing to deliver work for our clients. We have taken various steps to ensure the long-term health of our staff and their families. Whilst our staff are young and generally in good health, most live in multi-generational family groups so we also have a duty to protect their wider family.
The state in which our offices are located has now reported cases of COVID-19 as of 20th March.
Prior to this being the case, a team building event scheduled for March had been cancelled and we had taken measures to protect the team. In our offices have had an increase in our sanitising regime to keep areas clear to reduce any opportunity for any widespread spread of illness. Our staff are being advised that if they have a cold or raised temperature to stay away from work for a prolonged period, regardless of how minor.
From 16 March, our office started taking the temperature of all staff prior to being allowed to enter the workplace.
We are now preparing to ensure that our teams can work securely away from their normal office environment to prevent any infection passing between team members.
With the virus now present in the local State, we anticipate that the government will restrict travel within seven days. Based on the experience of other locations, this is the right thing for them to do, and it will mean we return to ‘business as usual’ as quickly as possible, with the disruption being at a relatively quiet part of the year.
Anticipating this, we have revisited our Business Continuity Plan and developed an approach to facilitate home working by our team. Our security protocols do not allow staff to access client data from outside our secure premises and we will continue to implement this policy, whilst the State and Country allow safe travel. Hence, we will only initiate this plan at the point where travel to the workplace is restricted, or we risk spreading the virus by having staff attend.
Naturally, we are conscious of the challenges this poses on our ability to ensure that our work for you continues to be carried out safely and securely. We have contacted each of our clients asking you to confirm your wishes in respect of allowing us to access your files remotely.
To facilitate this plan we have procured laptop computers for 30% of our staff. Our IT teams are configuring all machines (including employees’ own if needed) to have the same security configuration as our office-based machines, including secure login, encrypted hard drives and disabled USB ports. This protects our systems in all possible scenarios including theft. However it will constitute a slight reduction in security as we will not be able to control the use of cameras, mobile phones, paper or family members around the equipment, and are trusting our team members to enforce our policy on these. These computers will only have internet access via our office VPN, so you will see no change in IP addresses used to access your systems.
We have also procured desktop computers for the remainder of our staff which are being configured to the same specification and will be transporting these to the homes of staff when needed.
All remote staff will be provided with internet connections at our expense (where they are not in place already) to ensure that they can continue to operate from home via our office VPN.
Given the fast-moving nature of this virus, we will be asking the staff remaining in the local area to our offices to ensure that they are able to work the hours necessary to continue to support their colleagues and clients.
Finally, please note that March and April are periods where we have spare capacity. If your firm is in a position where it needs additional work to be done, we will be in a position to support you.
We will continue to monitor advice given by Government here and in India. and should anything materially change moving forward we will contact you once again. These are challenging times for us all, and both myself and our team are working around the clock to keep our respective businesses running. Please keep in touch with us.
Thanks and regards
20 March 2020
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