From Neil McDougall, 19 March 2020

What follows is addressed to our UK business. The pace of events in the UK is accelerating and we must react accordingly.  We will continue the preparations in Australia with our remote working trial on Friday.  More information will follow for our Australian colleagues.

In the UK we are responding to the latest update from Government informing us that schools across the UK will close from this Friday, 20 March.  I recognise that this change is adding additional stress and uncertainty into the situation – I want to do what I can to mitigate that for everyone who might be impacted by this new situation in Frazer-Nash.

We had already put in place guidance for staff whose children are sent home from school and need to make alternative arrangements.  As a precursor to taking any action we would ask that you inform your line manager and HR Business Partner.  This is so that we can understand who is impacted, put suitable management arrangements in place and will help us in our future decision making as the situation evolves.  I have re-produced this initial guidance below, captured in the FAQ section of the COVID-19 guidance:

“If you are able to work from home, then we would ask that you do so to the best of your ability and your normal pay will be unaffected.

If you are unable to work from home, then you may choose to take this time as annual or unpaid leave.  You may also be able to take unpaid time off to look after dependents (PAP1055 / PAP1055AUS) or unpaid Parental Leave (PAP5015UK / PAP1055AUS)​​​​​​​”

The implication of the government’s decision to close schools is that the next tranche of people we would ask to utilise our remote working capability will be those primary carers for children who have been sent home from school.  This is in addition to the measures I described yesterday for staff who live in London and commute to work by public transport, and for those individuals based in Dorking, Glasgow and Bristol who similarly travel to work by public transport.

Our offices remain open (we’ll update the status of all offices in our COVID-19 guidance).  If you can come in some of the time and work from an office it will reduce the strain on our IT and you might be able to assist others who cannot.

The New Normal

We are on a journey through this situation, transitioning towards a new normal that may endure for some time.  We’d ask that you bear with us during the transition.  The tools we have to help you deliver your work and engage with customers are not perfect and are under strain in places.  What is needed is the development of working practices (based on outcomes rather than hours worked, perhaps) and efficient use of our tools to enable us to collaborate effectively.  I’m already starting to see this happen, most amusingly in one group with the introduction of “electronic tea” where members of a team get together electronically at a set time for a chat over a brew.  Fantastic.

Thinking about normal business, I’d like to remind you all that we should always be led by our Purpose, whatever the circumstances.  I think that in the current situation “we help organisations deliver innovative engineering and technology solutions to make lives safe, secure, sustainable and affordable” is particularly pertinent.  Now more than ever we need to focus on our customers, helping them deliver services that matter in these challenging times.

One final point, please stay in touch.  Let your line manager and HR Business Partner know if you go off sick, when you are back fit and able to work, and where you are working from.  We are managing a dynamic situation and need to understand who is where and in what condition so that we can provide the right level of support (or enlist your help to support others).