Austin-Smith:Lord Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement

Working from home

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement
27th March 2020

The outbreak of Coronavirus and its implications on everyday life and business continue to unfold at pace. Our COVID-19 Response Group liaises daily to ensure our policies and procedures are continuously reviewed and updated as appropriate as the situation develops and government/health authority advice evolves.

Our current position is as follows;

Our business remains fully operational and the steps we have taken enable us to deliver our services to agreed budgets, timescales and quality.

We have successfully implemented a switch to home working for all staff which has been fully in place since 20th March and all of our studios are closed. Our prior preparation for this switch and the remarkable resilience and dedication of our staff enabled this to happen smoothly and efficiently.

Our Business Continuity Plans were updated at an early stage to cover this specific incident, enabling us to issue bespoke guidance for staff on home-working whilst putting enhanced IT infrastructure and systems in place, in the context of already working with a cloud-based system and vpn’s to provide remote access.

We have issued specific guidance on Health & Safety whilst homeworking and continue to provide both collective and individual support to all staff as a matter of high priority.

We continue to follow Government and Health Authority advice, keeping abreast of changes to that advice and acting accordingly. We continue to issue advice to our staff on a regular basis through a dedicated Microsoft Teams Channel/Digital Notice Board, updating them of our own position, any changed policy or procedures and also passing on practical advice received from government and other bodies covering a wide range of topics including health, wellbeing and financial matters. We have requested all staff follow government advice, particularly with regard to staying at home, practicing social distancing and the ongoing need to self-isolate when circumstances dictate.

We are now operating without physical meetings or travel so that we can fully play our part in reducing the spread of the virus. Project meetings are continuing as scheduled, fulfilled through video conferencing or telecon. The majority of our current activity is design work, together with ongoing business development conducted via video and telephone. A relatively small proportion of our current activity relates to projects which are on site and you will be aware that the closure of sites or otherwise currently varies across the UK. Where sites remain open, we have, by agreement, been providing services remotely.

Our response is being led by an Executive Director assisted by both internal and external specialists in HR, H&S and IT. The situation is being monitored daily and all Executive Directors updated.

We have been in communication with our critical supply chain. This, in practice, is limited to a small number of consultants who are enabling us to provide non-core services to our clients. We have established that they are principally adopting a similar approach to ourselves including home-working where possible for business continuity and to date we have not been impacted by their response to COVID-19. This aspect will remain under review.

You will appreciate that the situation with COVID-19 is fluid and our policy and procedure will be subject to change in direct response. We will be issuing regular updates to our clients and collaborators through our website and email.