First and foremost, we have established a business continuity working group in which members from across our organisation are developing and regularly reviewing our global plans in line with the changing local governmental advice – for the benefit of our employees, our customers and the wider community.
As a technology business, we have long had an infrastructure which ensures our mission critical teams can operate remotely. The prospect of remote working however, can be extremely tough for some and we recognise this – especially for those who are required to self-isolate. Just this week we held a session for our managers about supporting their teams who are working from home – specifically those who are not used to it and may find it an isolating experience – ensuring their teams have regular ‘switch on and off times’ and ways to keep in touch.
For some time we have had an extensive mental health and wellbeing programme which we see as fundamental in us being a responsible employer. As a standard benefit of employment, we offer free access to an Employee Assistance Programme offering all 2,500 employees with advice and support around financial matters, personal matters and mental health which right now is of great value. We also have engagement champions in every location to ensure people stay engaged.
Financial matters are, understandably, a huge concern for our people right now so, at Advanced, we have pledged to pay all our staff for their time in isolation whether sick or at risk but unable to work from home – even those who fall outside of the sick pay policy which include those still within their first six month probationary period, and absence outside of the 7-day self-certification period. We believe that we have a duty to care for our employees now, as during the recovery from this epidemic we will be relying on them to accelerate back to business as usual.
At a customer level, we’re ensuring that our critical software and infrastructure services can be delivered and supported remotely to ensure our customers business continuity. Technology is a huge enabler for crisis situations like this and, with our large portfolio of solutions from mission critical cloud software to fully managed IT outsource services, we can help organisations ensure they are equipped to cope during this time. We are also offering a range of Business Continuity Health Check Services for customers who are unsure what they should do.
As a technology partner of the NHS, we are working very hard with health and care providers as they rapidly try to expand their service provision for which they have to have the right systems in place to address the increased surge in patients needing advice and care. Advanced’s technology handles the majority of NHS 111 calls in England and we have mobilised fast to help the 111 providers meet demand. Our clinical decision support system is used by many out-of-hours services and ambulance trusts a secondary triage and so we have updated and delivered to customers updates to accommodate coronavirus – the priority being that calls can be triaged accurately directing valuable NHS resources to the cases most in need, and directing patients to self-care where relevant.
Our business has, like many others, suffered disruption. Just last week we cancelled two large annual staff events. The 200+ hotel bedrooms booked for this event are being donated to NHS trusts looking to accommodate staff in Birmingham. Our customer Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust was one of the first to benefit.
To the wider community, we will next week launch our ‘Match It’ funding programme in which Advanced will match fundraising carried out by our teams. We will be encouraging support for those charities who are in the frontline to support communities at this time. What’s more, we offer our employees paid leave for volunteering and again will be promoting those charities in the spotlight right now. As a Patron of the Prince’s Trust, we are continuing to offer what we can to help young people in need.
We hope that our actions, and the actions of other businesses that have signed this pledge, will help minimise the damaging effects that Covid-19 is having on business. We are confident that recovery will come and the resilience of good businesses and their people will be repaid. Advanced will remain focused on making a difference wherever and whenever we can.