COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation around the world and locally. Outlined below is a high-level overview of our business continuity plan and proactive measures in place in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure our people are safe and well, and that we can continue to provide high levels of service to our clients.
Service delivery & business continuity
We have enacted our business continuity plan and have systems and infrastructure in place to provide our clients with a ‘business as usual’ service. Some of our measures are as follows:
- We have implemented a limited opening arrangement for all our Australian offices as a precautionary measure. Our people are currently working remotely unless working in the office is essential.
- We are rostering skeleton staff in our offices (taking appropriate hygiene control measures) to support our services (eg printing and couriering, technology hardware and other business support services).
- We have invested in (and have successfully stress tested) technology that supports our workforce remotely. This includes equipping our people with secure remote connection to systems via appropriate and efficient hardware, as well as telephone access via firm-issued mobile phones or “soft phones” that route landline calls. We also have the capability to undertake video conferences easily through our laptops.
- We have worked with building management across our offices to ensure there are appropriate building response plans and that we are promptly advised of any incidents in tenancies.
Meetings and visitors
Our Australian offices remain open only on a limited basis. As part of this arrangement:
- We are currently holding essential in-person client meetings only on our premises. We are aware that many of our clients have restrictions on attending external meetings. We have additional registration requirements for visitors to our premises. All visitors are required to confirm they have not returned from overseas within the last 14 days, they have not been in close contact with a suspected or positive case of COVID-19 and they are healthy and do not have relevant symptoms.
- Our people are permitted to attend client meetings on client premises provided our clients are comfortable with that, they do not attend their premises if they are feeling unwell and practice good hygiene and appropriate physical distancing.
- We are otherwise arranging alternative teleconference or webex arrangements as necessary.
- We have skeleton staff to support any meetings that go ahead.
- We have restrictions on attending and hosting internal and external events, applied on a case-by-case basis. At a minimum, we are:
- presenting internal seminars and client seminars via webinar where possible
- deferring all non-essential events hosted in a KWM office until further notice
- requiring that employees not attend work related external events where there will be more than 50 attendees, with exceptions only by approval of our Chief Executive Partner, Australia, or Chief Operating Officer.
Health and wellbeing
The health and safety of our people and their families, our clients and the community, is our priority.
In addition to our limited office opening arrangements, we have implemented a number of measures, including the following:
- We have increased hygiene management, cleaning frequency, as well as additional deep ‘hospital grade’ cleans of each of our offices.
- We have guidelines in place for those who are required to be in the office:
- requiring that they continue to maintain good personal hygiene and avoid being face-to-face with others for more than 15 minutes or in the same confined space with others for more than 2 hours
- encouraging them to stagger working hours to avoid peak public transport times.
- We have a policy that those who are unwell do not attend the office or leave the office immediately and seek medical advice if any symptoms of illness begin to show.
- We are checking in with all new starters about their recent travel and if they have had potential contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- We have obtained independent expert medical advice to help inform our response.
- In addition, we are supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our people through:
- our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselling service, Thrive, available to all staff and immediate family members to help manage any anxiety or concerns
- regular communication from our Chief Executive Partner, Australia, updating all staff and Partners on the current situation and the firm’s response
- appointing a dedicated contact point to manage all internal concerns or queries about COVID-19.
- Following the latest AU Government ban on Australians travelling overseas and international Level 4 “Do Not Travel” Advisory, all partners and employees are:
- required to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from any overseas country (whether for work-related or personal travel)
- required to defer all new and pre-booked work-related international travel
- required to defer all new and pre-booked personal international travel. If travel is essential this is to be approved by leadership but we have informed our staff that as more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult - and that they may not be able to return to Australia when they had planned to. We have also told them to consider whether they have access to health care and support systems if they get sick while overseas.
- Any domestic air travel regardless of location must be essential and approved as such by a Managing Partner or our Chief Operating Officer.
- We are tracking all overseas travel (work and personal) on a centralised basis so we can monitor our employees if the situation in a country changes and are able to take appropriate action. We are communicating the latest Australian Government advice to all travellers, and strongly encouraging all our people to carefully reconsider whether they need to travel.
- We have also prepared travel guidance documents to help our people manage hygiene and safety while travelling.
We are constantly monitoring the situation and will update these arrangements as needed.
If you have any queries regarding our response measures please get in touch with your key KWM contact or contact Renae Lattey, Managing Partner, Clients.