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Chester Grey in Alert Level 2

May 13, 2020

New Zealand is preparing to return to work under Alert Level 2.From Thursday the 14th of May most businesses will be back operating albeit, still with many restrictions thereby creating a ‘new normal’ for their everyday operations.

The emphasis is clearly still on restricting the contact points and thereby ensuring an ability to contract trace as quickly as possible.

We have read many stories about the probable changes that many businesses will undertake to continue to employ, such as remote working, shift working and rotation policies.The overriding theme of course being the same, keep the contact less than it was under the old ‘norm’.

In light of this we have been working on our return to the office environment which, as much as not having to battle with traffic is great is certainly a blessing as we are all suffering a bit from ‘cabin fever’.

But in returning we too must follow the public health guidelines and ensure we are ready and able to operate safely under Level 2.

Business at Alert Level 2

So, what will we look like in terms of operating our business at Alert Level 2 and how will this affect our clients?

Firstly, we will not be returning to the office from Thursday the 14th but using the remainder of this week in readiness for a return on Monday the 18th. Therefore, officially our physical office remains closed – although clearly, we have been continuing to work remotely every day since lock down.

Business at Alert Level 2 means we can resume many of our everyday activities — but we must do this safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged so we are adopting a policy of a reduction in the total number of staff present in our office on any given day.

As most know, our office is very much open plan and not the largest – so space is a premium. Our ability to control and maintain physical distancing in the office is impacted by the numbers. So, we have split our teams and will initially introduce our accounting and admin teams back into the office from Monday 18th.

Our bookkeeping division will continue to work remotely, and we are now well versed in making sure we hook up via video conference regularly with remote staff to ensure we engage and keep up the culture of communication.

In addition the Directors will return on a rotational basis – it’s easier for us to rotate as we’re not dedicated to a team as such and can work with all the teams no matter where we are based as effectively as we can when in the office.

Controls at Alert Level 2

Alert Level 2 is not life as normal; some restrictions and other measures remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission.

For our team in the office that is about their physical distance in the office as well as managing the movement in the office. That includes managing breaks and movements as well as access to communal areas.

Clearly being at work when sick, regardless of how slight that might seem is a no-no. Although it was before this outbreak, we are required to be even more vigilant now.

Coming to our office

At Alert Level 2 we can have clients on our premises if they can meet public health requirements and we can travel to see our clients if they want to see us.So how will this work:

  • You will find the building manager has established some protocols around the use of the lift in our building – there is a one person only policy on the use of the lift unless it’s with colleagues
  • Our office doors will continue to be locked during the course of Level 2 – this is to control who comes into the office and for easing the ability to keep our contract tracing register up to date
  • So should you wish to visit please make an appointment first – that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see our clients – we certainly do – but in light of the health requirements it just makes more practical sense to be more ordered in the way we meet. So, we encourage you to contact the office first to make an appointment so we can take the details down of who is visiting and obtain the relevant contract tracing information. Contacting first also will allow you to know which days that person you’re looking to meet is in the office – otherwise they can arrange an appointment at a place convenient to you
  • Obviously as with all businesses we are having to record everyone we interact with on our premises and on our clients premises – please be aware we treat that information with as much sensitivity and confidentiality as we do with any other client information we hold. This information will not be provided to any third party other than should we be required to under the Public Health Act and initiatives for the purposes of contract tracing. That register is currently required to be kept for a minimum of 2 months
  • Please do not be offended when asked about your state of health – when you come to our offices our signs are there to remind visitors that they are not to enter the office should they display any cold of flu like symptoms
  • On arrival you will need to knock on our door to gain entry and then you will be escorted to one of our meeting rooms. And as has been the case for some time, of course do not be offended if the greetings are no longer physical in the form of handshakes or ‘hugs’ – we all want to but clearly it’s still a requirement to keep the distance. Hopefully one day we will get back to those
  • In our meeting rooms you will see some changes – mainly as there are not as many chairs to maintain the distancing
  • And don't worry, Donna can still make you a nice coffee (or tea) so do not be shy to ask if not prompted
  • As most of our clients know, we have the use of communal bathrooms on our floor as we share those with the other tenant on our floor.We are working with that business to put in place a process of ensuring only 1 person to a bathroom at one time. So, we can explain that at the time should you need to use these.
  • We have plenty of hand sanitisers around the office so please avail yourself should you wish to
  • Our cleaning protocols have been increased to ensure all high touch surfaces are sanitised regularly.

However ultimately, we are keen to embrace this return to our office and to again return to meeting with clients in a non-virtual way (there are only so many Zoom meetings we can take), so we are certainly looking forward to catching up with you shortly.