COVID-19 and business continuity at Vocus
Last Updated: 23 March 2020
As a leading specialist fibre and network solutions provider to business and government, we know customers are relying on us more than ever through the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Which is why we want to keep you updated on how we are managing our business through this challenging period.
Since late February 2020, Vocus has been steadily putting in place measures to care for the health and wellbeing of our people and our customers, as well as ensure the continuity of our business and the delivery of services for customers.
The information below is designed to provide a summary of the action we have taken and the latest measures we have in place in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customer account and billing enquiries
If you have any queries around upgrading your current services, you can speak directly with your Vocus account manager, or call our Customer Care team on 1800 864 865 (+61 8 6467 8721) for further assistance.
Support and technical enquiries
For any support cases, the Vocus Support Centre is available and operating 24/7 as usual.
Enterprise & Government customers
Call 1800 262 663 (+61 8 6311 3702)
Wholesale & International customers
Call 1300 855 845 (+61 2 8117 5909)
Business continuity at Vocus
As a provider of critical infrastructure, Vocus has a well-established business continuity framework in accordance with ISO 22313: Business continuity management systems.
Due to the uncertainty and escalating nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we formally enacted our business continuity plans in early March.
Activity under our business continuity plans is aligned with the Australian Federal Government Department of Health resources for COVID-19.
The execution of our plans is governed by our Crisis Management Team (CMT), comprised of senior executives, with the mandate to make decisions that provide the best care and support for our people and our customers.
The CMT meets daily to assess any potential impacts of COVID-19 and to prepare for any escalation of our response should it be required. The team continues to monitor the situation, taking advice from relevant government agencies.
Our response across our business
Our response to COVID-19 and implementation of our business continuity plans covers all parts of the Vocus Group.
For more information about how our retail businesses in Australia, and Vocus in New Zealand, are helping customers, please see their websites below:
Represented by our Group CEO, Kevin Russell, Vocus is participating in a government co-ordinated telecommunications industry group, consisting of the Chief Medical Officer, Minister for Communications, NBN and CEOs of the major telecommunication providers.
The purpose of the group is to collaborate on the industry’s response to COVID-19 and its ability to continue to provide the services that Australia needs at this time.
Health & safety of our people and customers
A key focus area in caring for our people and customers is helping prevent the transmission of COVID-19. To help achieve this, we have progressively put the following measures in place:
We have cancelled all international and domestic travel until further notice.
In line with government restrictions, we are requiring any of our people returning to Australia from any overseas location to self-isolate at home for 14 days before returning to the office.
We are speaking with our people who are currently travelling internationally, so that we can support them should they find themselves stranded or ill due to their travel.
We are restricting our people from visiting other offices within their city.
1. Office employees
Through our expertise with digital productivity and collaboration tools, and their daily use across our business, our people are well accustomed to working remotely or from home.
This has helped us quickly move to a position where the majority of our employees are working from home. This will help to reduce the potential for transmission of COVID-19 by reducing interaction and increasing our focus on social distancing.
2. Specialist roles
Under the advice of the relevant government agencies, the product and services Vocus provides is considered an ‘essential service’. For our teams for whom working from home is not a viable option, this means they will continue to operate from their usual work environments.
We have additional arrangements in place for these teams as part of our business continuity planning. Examples include:
- Field technicians: we have a dedicated focus on managing the wellbeing and resourcing of our field technicians, who play an important role in maintaining our network and delivering services to customers
- Operational Control Centre: we have strict control measures in place for our teams working in our Operational Control Centres. These include shift patterns to minimise contact between teams, and no inter-personal contact at our sites with employees from other areas or any external parties.
For all our internal meetings, we are using Zoom, our internal video and collaboration tool. This includes meetings of people within the same office.
For all our employees, we have requested anyone who is feeling unwell to stay out of the office, and if possible, to work from home. For any employees experiencing flu like symptoms, we have requested they see their doctor and gain clearance before returning to work.
Engaging with customers
As a business that has people engaging with customers on a daily basis, we have a range of measures in place to care for the health and wellbeing of all parties, as well as to ensure business continuity and the delivery of service to our customers.
1. Sales account management
We have restricted all non-essential interactions by our people in our offices, as well as external offices, and we are encouraging the use of video conferencing and collaboration platforms as much as possible.
We are restricting access to our offices for anyone who has travelled outside of Australia in the last 14 days or who is feeling unwell. Our signage and electronic sign-in systems in our reception areas have been updated to request this information.
2. Field technicians
To help prevent any potential transmission of COVID-19, we are ensuring the following conditions do not apply before our field technicians enter customer sites:
- There are one or more people feeling unwell
- There are one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19
- One or more people are suspected to have been exposed to someone who has contracted COVID-19, or
- One or more people on site are in self-isolation due to having had contact with someone who has, or is suspected of having, COVID-19.
If any of the above conditions apply, our field technicians are unable to attend a site and carry out work until a time we have received written and signed confirmation from the customer, that none of the conditions stated above apply.
On receipt, we will undertake a documented risk assessment according to our Workplace Health & Safety Risk & Hazard Management Procedure, before being able to attend a site. This risk assessment will be in consultation with the customer’s site manager and/or local workplace health & safety representative.
To help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our sites, we have the following measures in place:
In all our buildings, we have implemented control measures as recommended by government health authorities. These include:
- Increased hand sanitisers on ground floor public access entrance
- Visible requests for tenants to exercise good hygiene practices including washing hands often with soap, and seeking medical advice if required
- Increased frequency of surface cleaning in common areas such as lobbies, lifts and bathrooms.
Our data centres are sites where Vocus employees, our customers and suppliers are often based or have intermittent access. To care for the health and wellbeing of everyone at our sites, we have the following measures in place:
Site entry and protocols
- We are requesting all employees and visitors who have returned from travelling overseas in the last 14 days or are feeling unwell or developing flu like symptoms, to not enter our sites
- Our signage and electronic sign-in systems in our reception areas have been updated to request this information
- Upon daily entry to our data centre sites, visitors may be required to have their temperature checked by Vocus staff using no-contact infrared thermometers.
Through our own supply chain, Vocus has arrangements in place to ensure all necessary supplies and services will continue to be available on site.
Instances of suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19
Should there be a suspected case of COVID-19 at one of our data centres, the following measures will apply:
- Any individual suspected of having COVID-19 will be required to vacate the site and seek the advice of public health authorities, who will determine the need for testing and/or self-isolation
- The individual will be able to re-enter the site on providing written confirmation from public health authorities they are able to return to work.
Should there be a confirmed case of COVID-19 at one of our sites, the following additional measures will also apply:
- Following confirmation of a positive test by public health authorities, the site will be vacated
- All employees and visitors to the site in the previous 24-hour period will be notified and required to self-isolate for 14 days or until they have been cleared of having COVID-19 by public health authorities
- The site will be deep cleaned in line with the Department of Health’s environmental cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19 by an appropriate cleaner contracted by Vocus
- Vocus will undertake a documented risk assessment according to its Workplace Health & Safety Risk & Hazard Management Procedure, before employees and visitors are able to re-enter the site.
Network capacity and prioritisation
As part of business as usual activity, Vocus continually monitors the performance of our network and the delivery of service to customers.
We also have teams dedicated to the planning and forecasting of network capacity to ensure the delivery of services to customers now and into the future.
These activities continue through the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
We do expect to see some increased demand for capacity across our network, as new orders come in and people move to working from home arrangements.
We anticipate most of the impact will be on NBN connected networks, and we are actively working with nbn co to monitor changes to traffic patterns and adjust network configurations accordingly.
Under the guidance of our business continuity plans, we actively prioritise work and service orders according to various factors. These include:
- The health and well-being of our people, our customers and the general public
- The critical nature of a customer’s organisation, products or services, and/or industry
- The critical nature of the work or services to be provided. For example, work to maintain continuity of service, such as responding to faults or equipment failure, will generally be prioritised over new service installations or activations
- The availability of resources to carry out the work.
We have an adequate supply of spare network equipment for faults and repairs, as well as surplus stock for customer orders.
Our Procurement team has been in regular contact with our key vendors since January, when the COVID-19 outbreak first emerged. The team continues to take proactive measures to ensure our supply chain is well co-ordinated.
Working through this together
In a challenging time for everyone, Vocus is committed to working with our people, customers, suppliers, stakeholders and the relevant authorities to listen, take advice and importantly, take decisive action to help people and organisations through this period.
We thank you for your understanding in what is an evolving situation. We will continue to closely monitor all developments, take the advice of relevant government agencies, and keep our customers up to date as appropriate.