The words “unprecedented and uncertain” seem to be used a lot lately, but they truly do describe our current environment. It’s being felt in every facet of our lives – from home, to work, to the checkout. One thing that is certain though is the enduring, innovative and collegiate spirit within our government agency and business community, as we all work together to ensure they can continue to provide their services to customers and clients during this period of disruption.

We’ve been working hard to deliver some innovative business continuity solutions to our Enterprise customers who, like all of us, are working out the best COVID-19 workarounds.

Connect and collaborate with video

Video conferencing is an excellent way to stay connected and present with your teams if you need to move to remote operations. Our virtual teams across Australia do this every day for meetings as well as larger scale events. Telstra is holding weekly live streams to thousands of our workforce simultaneously and conduct Q&A.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and Education Minister John Gardner recently hosted a webinar with more than 800 school principals and more than 250 pre-school directors from our Adelaide Telstra office.

Using our video conferencing facilities, the South Australian Government was able to talk directly to the state’s education leaders to discuss health and safety protocols, social distancing and other practical measures.

Coronavirus update for education leaders

It's fair to say that many parents and teachers are worried about what coronavirus means for their school communities. A short while ago I held a webinar with hundreds of school principals to discuss health and safety protocols, social distancing and other practical measures. Keeping our education leaders informed is just another part of our plan to minimise the impact of coronavirus in South Australia.

Posted by Steven Marshall on Monday, 16 March 2020

Working remotely

Times like this reveal the power, capability and flexibility of allowing your teams to work remotely, particularly to ensure business continuity.

Over two weeks ago, Telstra moved to full working from home (WFH) arrangements for all our Australian office-based staff, to ensure we were flexible and ready to adapt to this evolving situation and maintain our focus on the essential role we play in connecting Australians. While WFH is something many of us in Telstra already take advantage of, it’s a brave new world for many other businesses and agencies who are facing a similar remote working situation, but it’s one they’ve proved eager to explore with us. I’m in my third week WFH now and there is so much to navigate before you even get to the technology and connections, but you have to get that right first.

Remote working requires the right gear for your people as well as the necessary infrastructure. Over the past week or so we have rolled out hardware including tablets, mobile routers and headsets, as well as a suite of software and network capacity upgrades and tech support to a large number of our enterprise customers. We’ve recently assisted government departments as well as businesses in the health and energy sector, enabling thousands of staff to now work from home and continue to serve their customers and clients.

Remote access can also benefit your customers or clients. We’re working with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to develop an online solution for approximately 4,000 students currently stuck overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions, allowing them to access educational resources and course content material.

Dialling up cloud-based call centres

Connectivity, combined with the right cloud-based solutions can make your operations location agnostic, giving you and your workforce the freedom and flexibility to operate offsite when needed.

The ever-changing and escalating COVID-19 situation has resulted in a number of agencies and businesses preparing to stand up special virtual call centres in case their call taking employees can’t access their physical sites. This includes Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services which operate some of the largest call centres in Australia.

Working with a number of our partners, we were able to set up a 100 “seat” contact centre in a matter of hours, ready to go if needed. This virtual centre can be accessed by staff over the web, allowing them to make and take phone calls almost anywhere.

Are you prepared?

As your organisation goes through a large shift in the way it normally carries out business, it is important to consider where changes will have the most impact.

Consideration should be given to:

  • How will you communicate with staff?
  • Are employees able to work from home and access all the systems they need?
  • Do employees already have the necessary devices and technologies to work from home?
  • Are there alternative locations that employees can work safely, if not from home?
  • Has there been any load testing on remote access capabilities to allow for increased remote access workloads?
  • Have you been in contact with your critical service providers for continuity assurance?
  • Are there alternative methods considered for critical roles if their home Internet access should fail or become over-subscribed (e.g. alternate networks through 4G wireless routers)?
  • Have all systems been licensed to support remote access capability?
  • Has the process been tested in part or whole?

Business continuity pre-planning is essential for maintaining the well-being of your people and your business during these uncertain times. As the Prime Minster has said, we are likely to live with COVID-19 for six months, which means these new working arrangements need to be robust and our “new normal” for the time being.

Talk to your Telstra Client Executive if your business is unsure where to start or needs help strategising your business continuity plan, or increased capacity and bringing it all to life to ensure your business continues to thrive.