From Jonathan Armstrong, 24 March 2020
Yesterday was another fast-moving day, with statements issued by the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers. These political leaders have also come together to form Australia’s first ever National Cabinet. The messaging is clear and urgent. To quote the Prime Minister in his statement, the response to coronavirus “requires every single Australian to do their duty as public citizens”. The Victorian Premier has urged all to “undertake their civic duty and practice social distancing”. The NSW Premier has asked that “if you have the capacity to work from home, you should do so.” The ACT Chief Minister has stated that “any business that can transition to virtual work arrangements should start that process as soon as possible”.
We care and need to play our part, for our society, families, friends and ourselves. Hence, I am today advising you all that our Frazer-Nash Australian business – all of you – are entering an indefinite period of working from home. For those of you living in ACT, NSW and Victoria I am asking all of you that can do so to start working from home as soon as possible. I would expect all of you who can to be working from home by the end of the week. For those of you living in South Australia, I am now advising that any of you who want and are able to work from home can now do so. Adelaide is our head office and there are a number of functions that mean that the transition to home working may take slightly longer. However, we can expect the majority of us to be working from home by early next week. All those transitioning to home working are free to take home the IT equipment you currently use in the office to enable this. Please talk to your line manager so that we understand your plans and anything we can do to help your transition to home working.
Although they may be very quiet, it is not my intention to formally close our offices. They will remain open if you need their facilities. However, we may need to put in place revised access arrangements to minimise lone working.
There are some details to pay attention to as we transition to home working:
- Please provide Rachel with the details of all office equipment that you take home, so that we know where it all is when normality returns.
- Please reclaim or dispose of any perishable food items you may have in the fridges.
- I intend to appoint local office managers to ensure secure lock-up and coordinate access.
- I will be asking Rachel to consider how our office-based reception numbers are answered so that we don’t miss any client contact.
Reflection – Support Each Other & Deliver Superbly for our Clients
This will be difficult. Working from home can be isolating and will affect each of us in different ways. We need to remain in close contact and support each other. Make use of the tools we have. I can’t offer any easy answers on how long this arrangement will need to be maintained. I quote from the Prime Minister’s statement of yesterday “Australians will be living with this virus, is our advice, for at least the next six months. It could be longer. There is no three or four week shutdown that makes it all go away.”
Our business is strong, capable and creative. Many of our major clients are delivering important Government-funded Defence and Infrastructure projects. This helps with our business resilience. We have spoken to all our major clients, who are all implementing similar actions to ourselves and ensuring that their (and our) work can continue. Indeed, most of our major clients are moving to remote working arrangements on a similar timeframe to ourselves. It is more important than ever that we deliver on our commitments and delight these clients. In the short term this is about securing our current contracted work and positioning ourselves for new opportunity. Developing business from new clients will become much more difficult – we need to make more from our existing relationships. In the longer term we have the opportunity to demonstrate new and more flexible ways of working that may endure beyond coronavirus. As I have said before, it is vital that we have a “we can if …” headspace, rather than a “we can’t because …”. Our clients will remember the actions we take today. Standing by them and delivering excellent work, despite challenging circumstances, will lead to long term relationships delivering success for all.
Everyone’s individual circumstances will differ. I am sure that many of you will have questions. In the first instance, please raise these with your line manager. We may not have all the answers immediately to hand – we are all adapting to the changing circumstances – so please bear with us as we navigate this transition together.
Keep safe, keep well.