Business and Enterprise | Small Business |

Supporting small businesses through COVID-19

By Michael Ackland April 8, 2020

Many small businesses across Australia are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. Australian small businesses are agile, we’ve always admired that about them, and we’ll see many of them adapt. But it’s important that the rest of Australia also gets behind them to support them through this challenging time. We’re showing our support by helping them adjust in a number of ways.

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Navigating financial difficulty

We don’t want you to worry about late payment fees while you figure out how your business will work and operate over the coming months. That’s why we announced we’re pausing all late payment fees for consumer and small business customers until the end of June.

We’re also providing unlimited data allowances on fixed broadband and extra mobile data free of charge for our consumer and small business customers.

If you’re a small business and a supplier of ours, we will also make sure we pay your invoices as quickly as we can. We recently announced we’re moving to 20-day payment terms by 30 June for all our suppliers who are small businesses, charities, indigenous organisations and disability enterprises.

Adapt and keep going

Doing business doesn’t look the same for many of us right now, so our aim is to help small businesses through this difficult period by assisting if you need to ramp up your digital presence.

We’re offering small businesses access to our new Digital Marketing Services website plans at half the regular cost, for three months. We’ll help you create or update your website and if needed, open an online store. We’ll be on hand to assist you in creating business listings for Google My Business, Apple Maps and Facebook Business. For our existing customers, we will automatically apply 50 per cent off your Telstra Digital Marketing or Telstra Online Essentials website subscription charge for the next three months.

We’re also offering a free Telstra Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) service to Aussie businesses until 30 June. This collaboration tool will help keep you connected with your teams through video and audio conferencing.

If you’re missing any equipment to work from home, Telstra’s Mobile Worksuite gives you the data, software, devices and support you need to get you and your team working remotely smoothly. We’ve introduced significant discounts to customers who take up these services from today onwards to help you make this transition as painlessly as possible. We’ve also heavily discounted all mobile broadband plans to make mobile data access easier.

We continue to monitor the situation closely while working closely with regulators and the government. Our absolute focus remains on team wellbeing, supporting our customers and playing our part in the national response.

Additional support with business hibernation

As we see more and more businesses shutting their doors due to COVID-19 restrictions, we want to play our part in helping small businesses to hibernate and get through this difficult time.

From today we’re offering small businesses with a 10-digit account number who have had to cease trading the option to suspend their fixed business services.

Further details and eligibility can be found on the Telstra website . Eligible customers can take up this offer by logging into Your Telstra Tools and submitting a Service Suspension request before 31 May 2020.

Once the suspension is applied, customers won’t be charged for their fixed service provided they don’t use it.

The service suspension will remain in place until further notice and Telstra will provide customers with 30 days’ notice of when the suspension offer and suspensions will end.

Additionally, customers can also divert their affected fixed business phone service/s to another fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier, at no cost for the period the suspension is active. Once you have applied to suspend your services, you will be sent instructions via your registered email address on how to forward your calls.

Things you need to know:

  • Account suspensions will not be backdated.
  • Should a customer use their fixed service while it has been suspended, the suspension will be removed, and they will be billed for that month.
  • Offer is not available for Telstra mobile services, items purchased on a repayment option and Telstra Business Tech Support or Telstra Business Digital Marketing Services.
Working from home
Business and Enterprise |

Remote work: how to get off to a strong start in 8 steps

By Campbell Simpson April 2, 2020

Preparing your organisation for remote working can feel like a big challenge. And this challenge is only amplified if remote working has become critical due to unusual circumstances or if many employees are new to working from home.

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to some of the important areas to cover off when setting up a remote workforce:

Communication. Good communication and transparency are crucial to the ongoing success of any remote-work scenario. In initially setting up staff for remote work, email is probably the best tool. But you could also establish communication via the company’s intranet or through collaborative platforms such as Slack.

Assessment. Encourage your employees to fill out individual assessments on how prepared they are to work remotely. You should include a question about whether they have a suitable workspace at home. This information will allow your organisation to plan for and assign who should work remotely. In some cases, it may be more appropriate for staff to take staggered days in the office rather than to have everyone working remotely at once.

Induction. Introducing employees to remote-working setup and conditions can be similar to “onboarding” new employees. Create a set of guidelines including expectations and FAQs. If the remote-working situation is likely to be temporary, even if you don’t know for how long, plan regular updates and communicate these too.

Hardware. Depending on the nature of your organisation, you may either need to equip workers with laptops, mobile phones and printers, or assess the suitability of those already in place – whether they belong to the company or the employee. Other hardware considerations include headsets, microphones, noise-cancelling headphones and cameras (for videoconferencing).

Software. You’ll need collaboration and file-sharing tools to manage jobs and workflow. Again, communication is key, so everyone knows which systems to use and for what purpose. Provide robust guidelines around file-sharing covering issues such as version control, file-naming conventions and where to save shared files. The IT department plays a central role in this aspect of procedural planning.

Passwords, security and backups. All remote workers will need to know their passwords, especially if they need to switch between computers and other devices. Remote workers will also need to have any required software installed on their devices and have access to internal systems, such as the company’s HR platform. Most cloud-based work-sharing programs offer some capacity but if backups are crucial to your business, bring it to the attention of your IT team. Remote working presents corporate security issues, so check that your IT team has safeguards in place.

Workflow. Once your remote workers are established, ongoing challenges will revolve around workflow and inclusion. It’s easy for remote workers to feel out of the loop. They also need clear guidelines as to what they should be working on and when. Depending on your team structure and the nature of your business, useful touchpoints include regular check-ins, sticking to scheduled team meetings, daily “scrums”, phone calls and video conferencing.

Flexibility. It helps to keep an open mind and build a bit of flexibility into your remote working ethos. If the situation is temporary, teams may have to be more versatile than usual; for example, flexible working hours may be necessary if your team is juggling childcare, illness or time-zone differences.

Contact your Telstra Client Executive today to discover how we can help you with business continuity planning.

Business man on mobile phone working on his tablet at the office
Business and Enterprise | Telstra News |

How businesses are using connectivity to combat COVID-19

By Michael Ebeid AM March 30, 2020

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.

Regional Australian town
Business and Enterprise | Small Business | Small Business |

Keeping volunteer firefighters on track with Account Management Support

By Luke Hopewell March 10, 2020

When you run a business, you don’t want anything to derail your progress. Even the smallest issue can cause problematic ripples for your day-to-day activities. So when Amy’s dad was working with the NSW Rural Fire Service over Kempsey late last year and his data service stopped working, he needed answers fast.

Amy’s dad is a 30-year pilot. He learned to fly while raising three kids and supporting his family in New South Wales. When he’s not flying with the Rural Fire Service as a volunteer pilot, he’s complaining about who left the lights on around the house and reminding his family who pays the electricity bill.

As part of his business, he connects with Telstra.

But like all things, sometimes he encounters snags and minor issues that need to be solved fast. When he was flying as part of recent firefighting operations, he found one such snag.

Because connectivity is so vital to Amy’s dad, he’s a user of our small business Account Management Support service.

We know that business owners are time-poor. All your energy should go into looking after your customers and improving your operations, not spent on the phone to your suppliers, on hold or in a queue in-store. Our small business Account Management Support gives you more time to look after your business, while we handle your communication and technology needs and account queries.

This service comes at no extra cost, for every single one of our small business customers, irrespective of their size or the number of services they have. Whether you’re a work from home sole trader or have a more complex business with multiple staff across multiple sites, your account with us just got more personal.

In fact, since we launched the service last year, our Account Management team has provided assistance through more than 1 million calls from Telstra customers.

While Amy’s dad is pretty tech-savvy, the Account Management Support service gave Amy and her dad extra peace of mind, knowing they could call on help if they ever needed it.

When his data SIM card went out while he was working with the Rural Fire Service, she knew the issue needed a quick resolution. That’s when Mac swooped in to fight this proverbial fire. Mac works as part of our dedicated Account Management team.

When you call or talk to us with a question or an issue with your account, you’ll reach a team of dedicated business specialists that are accountable for resolving your queries from start to finish. We have a dedicated number – 132 000 – for small businesses, connecting you with our Account Management team with extended support hours of 8AM-9PM every day of the week – so you can concentrate on running your business during its opening hours.

When you call us, the small business expert you speak to will be responsible for navigating the complexities of any issue. You can also opt in to our text-back service, which will give you regular updates on the status of your request.

Amy’s dad called her when his data service stopped working, and Amy was straight on the phone to our Account Management Support team. She says that Mac was able to immediately diagnose the issue as a mismatched SIM card serial number on the account, and immediately reregister the SIM cards for active service.

Amy said that she was eternally grateful that Mac could fix this issue. “Any other company would have just told my Dad to go into a local store to fix the issue in person, but while he’s flying a helicopter fighting fires, he can’t exactly park anywhere, y’know?”

“Mac asked the right questions, and quickly understood exactly what had happened to the SIM, and in no time at all, Mac had put out the biggest fire of all today and got the service working again,” Amy said.

She tells me if she could speak to Mac again, she’d want him to know that he’d had “a magnificent impact potentially saving animals, homes and even lives”. “A simple request to reactivate a SIM card is something these guys can do standing on their head, and it has an incredible impact and really helps get the job done,” she adds.

Find out more about our small business dedicated Account Management Support team.

Small business owner at pet business using tech solutions from Telstra Business Services
Business and Enterprise | Cyber Security | Small Business | Small Business | T22 |

Bringing our best security services to Australia’s small businesses

By Michael Ackland February 18, 2020

We know how busy it is running a business; you’ve got your staff to look after, suppliers to chase, invoices to handle. That’s why we’ve just launched three new services to make your business’s growth journey easier.

Did you know that 44 per cent of Australian small businesses say they could be doing more to protect their business from cyber attacks? Criminals don’t look at the size of a business before they make their move, either – if your digital services are vulnerable, your business is at risk. Where big businesses have the luxury of specialised teams like marketing and IT, small businesses are often left to manage these risks by themselves.

Telstra Business Awards Alumni Christopher Marr from Sonder spoke to us about the importance of keeping his business running online, safely and securely.

Telstra Business Cyber Services offers whole-of-business support for $80 month to month including four security assessments every year, monthly updates on emerging threats and guidance on how to guard against them, and round the clock support. We want you to hand off all of your business’s complex security needs to us – we’ll take care of it for you.

We’ve used enterprise grade security for Telstra Business Cyber Services, with our cloud-based Internet Protection for Mail and Web Services using local and global threat intelligence and advanced tools from leading security vendors. Without any hand-holding needed from you, our Internet Protection for Mail and Web helps protect from malware, ransomware, viruses, spoofing and other advanced threats. Inappropriate and malicious content is also blocked.

Educating business owners and employees about how to identify and protect against cyber attacks is a big part of the security assessments we provide. For many cyber incidents that result in data breaches, there’s a human element – such as an individual opening a phishing email or clicking a malicious link – so the more we can do to educate people around these risks, the better.

If you already have a handle on your cyber security needs but want an extra hand with the technology that you use for your day-to-day operations, Telstra Business Tech Services is a $60 month to month service that gives you dedicated tech support and four expert assessments per year, while at the same cost Telstra Business Digital Marketing Services outsources the expertise you need to build or maximise your digital presence and sell online.

Small business owner monitoring his alcohol stock in a production facility with tech solutions from Telstra Business Services

Late last year we also launched Mobile Worksuite, our all-in-one solution for businesses that want to transition to a fully mobile work environment – whether that’s literally taking your business on the road, or working from temporary offices and co-working spaces or work sites. Get started with your choice of a 2-in-1 device including the Microsoft Surface Pro X which has built-in 4G connectivity, as well as Microsoft Office software and 24/7 support.

Since December 2018 we’ve upskilled 3000 business specialists across our stores, and we launched 28 new Telstra Business Technology Centres in regional and metro areas to help our small business customers with their more complex technology needs face to face. We also launched our dedicated free account management service for all Telstra small business customers regardless of their size.

We want to help you avoid the lost productivity and significant financial impact that cyber attacks can lead to, and to minimise the disruption of dealing with these issues as well. Prevention is better than a cure, and we hope our new services will give Australia’s small business owners the peace of mind they need to grow their operations.