From Neil McDougall, Friday 20 March 2020

I’d like to start today’s note with a warm note of thanks to all of the company. Every single person. What I have asked you to do over recent days hasn’t always been easy, but we have responded really well to the challenges put in front of us. “Fortitude” doesn’t really adequately describe how we have reacted. Our IT team has been nothing short of magnificent, and I am hearing great stories from all around the business of how we are helping each other and our customers (who, it turns out, may not have been as well prepared as us). We will be sharing some of these good news stories from today. You need to hear about them, too.

The New Normal

I introduced this idea yesterday and would like us to take this next step from the start of next week.

In the UK (more on Australia in a moment) we have put measures in place to make sure that those who are really vulnerable have the capability to work from home. We have extended this to include those that might be exposed to greater risk of infection by travelling to work on public transport, and those with childcare responsibilities.

The next step is for us to transition to a new way of working where we may all work remotely some of the time, but have the ability to work from our offices (with increased social distancing measures) when we need to. We will need to balance this from a social perspective, as well as the practicalities of getting some types of collaborative work done and managing the resilience of our systems. Some of us may need to work from client sites in a managed way.

However we work, our over-riding priority must be a focus on the outcomes to support our customers, and deliver our services in the best way we can.

For Australia, I am pleased to report that the remote working test we concluded on Friday (is that “yesterday” or “today” I’m losing track!) worked really well. This outcome puts us in a really good place to respond (we have already asked the really vulnerable to work from home) as we watch developments and await updated guidance from the Australian government. We are aware that some of our customers are moving to a “working from home” model and we will monitor this carefully to ensure we respond in a measured way at the right time.

More than ever, I see what we are doing as a collaborative effort, a team sport. Remember why we are here, our Purpose, and how we want to behave, our Values. We need to look out for each other, and lend a hand to those that need it. Keep in touch with your line manager and each other so that we may offer you that help when you need it, or you can offer others assistance when you spot that they are in need.