'Only people working in jobs that cannot be done from home should still be in their normal places of work' - BusinessNZ and The NZ Initiative

'Only people working in jobs that cannot be done from home should still be in their normal places of work' - BusinessNZ and The NZ Initiative
Kirk Hope

The country’s largest business lobby group, BusinessNZ, and the right-wing think tank, The New Zealand Initiative, are calling for people to work from home.

“We encourage New Zealand employers to send staff to home offices where possible. Only people working in jobs that cannot be done from home should still be in their normal places of work," they said in a joint statement.

“New Zealand must avoid a repeat of the European experience. We have a small window and a slim chance to stamp out the virus in New Zealand before it is too late.”

Echoing the Government’s sentiment, BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope told interest.co.nz the best way to protect the economy is to manage the spread of the virus.

He said a number of businesses, including large law firms, are already encouraging staff to work from home and stopping face-to-face meetings.

The Government has been promoting “social distancing”, but hasn’t gone so far as to say everyone who can, should work from home.

The Ministry of Health has advised anyone who feels unwell to stay at home.

Meanwhile the government website, Employment NZ, says: “Minimising the spread of coronavirus is important to keep employees safe and well at work. This should be done before thinking about the interests of the business or organisation.”

Hope and The New Zealand Initiative executive director, Oliver Hartwich, welcomed the Government’s decision to require everyone entering New Zealand to self-isolate for 14 days.

They were also pleased with the $500 million of increased health funding included in the Government’s $12.1 billion support package, as well as the package (including temporary wage subsidies, permanent benefit increases and business tax changes) more broadly.

They applauded the Ministry of Health for committing to increasing daily COVID-19 testing capacity later this week from 770 to 1500 tests a day.  

However they said: “We need much broader testing to know which measures are needed.”

The National Party has also come out strongly calling for more testing.

New Zealand has 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including three new cases confirmed on Tuesday.

“We are expecting more sporadic cases given the increase in cases globally. We want to find cases so we can trace and isolate close contacts and prevent community spread,” the Ministry of Health said.

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24 Comments

Sane as how CCP in China have done it.

Praise for BusinessNZ and The NZ Initiative!

Also, for workers, government NEEDS to hand people two free quality face masks per week for the next four weeks!

Nobody is 'stamping out' the virus, at best dragging it out for a year or more until we have a vaccine. With this mentality so long as there is one case of the virus, the entire planet is on lockdown. I'm business as usual, still going to town on Friday night.

A lot of businesses don’t have the level of trust required and are terrified of opening the door to the end of the old 9-5 workhouse model.

NZ Inc. favours cost over quality when hiring workers. Our migration system favours quantity over quality as well.

I can see some of the managers at my workplace regretting their poor hiring decisions with their chickens coming home to roost.

I’m no expert when it comes to pandemics, but how long do we work from home for and expect to wait out this virus? This could go on for months and months...do we completely close our borders and work from home for the rest of the year, hoping that all countries do the same - then when it appears all countries are clear get back to business as usual (if such a thing exists) and open our borders again (only for another breakout to occur and then repeat the process?)

My intuition that this might be like the apprehension you have before pulling off a bandaid - it’s got to happen. How much economic pain is too much vs the number of people who may die? I ask this question with objectivity but also great compassion towards those most at risk or who have sick friends. But where do we as people find a balanced view in issues like this? If we have more suicides/depression as a result of bankruptcies/financial stress caused by the media hype, fearful reactions and government intervention, is this worse than catching Covid 19 itself? Or am I underestimating the significance of this virus?

My friends in California are already complaining, shelves are empty, internet is crap because everyone is at home, online chewing up all the bandwidth plus the kids are all stuck at home in winter.

Question is how long can we sustain the new model before the financial ramifications become too crippling? At some point we'll start tracking into a 1930's style depression and then question becomes, how do we get back out of that and who pays the debts - or do we start another war to clear them?

Sorry but if keeping schools and Unis open what is point if everyone else working from home. Kids get taught by adults so they easily carry a virus..either all or nothing otherwise it won't work. Nz basically shuts down at Xmas...why they can't do same now? Pull school holidays forward two weeks.

To slow it, rather than stop it?

This is how pathetic this work from home is, a lady from decided she needed too then guess who I saw at the gym working out..yep...so all or nothin

In Europe everyone works from home right now. New Zealand work place management is a good 20 years behind. 'If we don't see you, you aren't working'.

Covid-19 will fix that.

Being in ICT, I work from home regularly. It's not a big deal to me, especially when my team is co-located. Though it could be a substantial change for people (both employers and employees) who are not used to it. It's more of a working culture change. Funny that Xingmo spins the CCP solution wheel again. Come on, WFH has nothing to do with CCP, and supplying facemasks regularly is the Taiwanese solution.

Well there you go business NZ a huge govt bail out yesterday, something of a surprise in these so called neo liberal times.... aren't you meant to be standing on your own two feet, subject only to the forces of market economics? Time for you lot to come clean and change your name to something more befitting of your true policy settings.
I'd suggest 'NZ Socialist Party' would be a good start...you are not capitalists by a long shot!

Western society be pro capitalist while the going is good, then Carl Marx when their excess turns sour. Such rubbish. How many faces can we have?

We are preparing for it in our company, but as we discovered it is not so simple for everyone to just set up at home.

Some of the issues we have already encountered on the employee side:
- Internet connectivity. A lot of people only have a mobile, they can hotspot, but don't have a large enough data plan to cover work.
- Space, many don't have a room, let alone a desk suitable for working at.
- H&S, Often not able to transport/fit in office chairs, standing desks, and other physical equipment.
- Physical paperwork (Regulatory purposes) which can't be scanned/emailed.
- Distractions/interruptions - Specifically children.
- Insurance, "working" from home could cause issues with residential house/contents insurance.
- Contact, Not everyone has a work Phone.
- IT Systems and support

Employer side:
- Cost of covering internet/phone and potentially power for employees
- Fixed overheads in now empty offices
- Social isolation/change in company culture.
- Walk in business and deliveries still need to be met.

There are ways to address a lot of these issues given the time/money. But at this stage it appears nobody has any of either.

Yep, what are you doing preparing now?
One of your higher ups has dropped the ball, badly.

Example in the south, companies are working earthquake prompted continuity plans.
Some professional offices are trialing full oneday WFH next week, so as to commence fulltime all staff the WFH week following (system setup already in place).

Other firms already allow only FT employees in the office.

Some firms (including industrials) have put off all non-essential contractors, restricting who comes on site.

Re read the first sentence.

See comment below, we can and do work from home - our company will be fine.

An employee working from home once a month isn't so fussed about internet/power/chair/desk. They factor in the personal benefit to them of being at home.

An employee who has no option but to work from home for a prolonged period obviously has different expectations.

Sure, though many others are well ahead of you and have thought through business continuity issues.
You are a company and not a government department, government office?.

I think you give too much credit to many companies and underestimate how much work still cannot be done purely online. We are a private company, and granted, there are definitely ones who are streets ahead of us. But by all accounts we are ahead of most.

Just because "We have a laptop so can work from home no worries" approach is being taken by most, doesn't mean they are "ahead" How many companies have actually done full risk assessments and understand the legal/regulatory risks involved. (although to be fair many things will just get sorted on an as-required basis, and hope they aren't major points of failure)

How many companies are checking that employees aren't using unsecured wifi at home?
How many employers are updating their insurance to cover the employees in different workplaces?
How many employees are updating their insurance to cover working from home?
How many H&S workspace evaluations have been done?/What happens if someone injures themselves?
How do you provide things like Scanners/photocopiers/printers remotely?
How do you receive/send packages?
How do you source inventory/stock?
...

I think we will soon see who was ahead and who ran blindly forward.

I handled plenty of business continuity and disaster recovery plans while I was working in Japan, as most of our customers were foreign financial institutions.

These plans had to be trialed every 3 months for a year after any changes made, then every 6 months after that. That meant complete shutdown of the primary business location and primary data center, with failover to the secondary data center, activation of the call tree, and the required people going to the continuity office.

For most of the financial institutions these were cold sites but we had one customer who maintained a secondary hot site 24/7. They basically paid all the rates, power, communications to keep this office open even though no-one worked there.

For those not required at the secondary site, or if the pandemic plan was activated which doesn't allow for staff to work in offices, they worked from home using gigabit Internet connections to have point-to-point VPNs.

Data center failovers and full backup restoration processes were done once a month as part of our commitment to 99.999% up-time for our SaaS products, and when we were giving a tour of the data center to prospective customers we often just turned off racks as a demonstration of the reliability of the services.

That reads like a list of why your company is going to fail. Rather than time or money it sounds more like it's simply missing the will to make changes. All my kids and partners will be working from home by the end of the week.

I think that is both a fair, but also tough comment.

Our company is probably better prepared than most. We all have laptops and have always been geared towards mobility. On any given day we we will have people working from home/remotely.

We could all easily operate from home today if required. But productivity would be much lower due to the reasons outlined above.

Prolonged working from home is what our issue is. Ultimately the company can only plan/control so much. However the law states we are responsible for employees while at "work".

So the question is - do we have the right to control and interfere in an employees home space?

As an employer - I would say yes. The law compels me to.
As an employee - I would say hell no! It my place.

On your Employer side, cost of covering internet and power in our case is well offset by $10/day petrol + wear and tear on the car + about 1 hour of travel time no longer needed. We are wondering how much throttling of data speed could be on the way though as more people stay at home and if the school closes (well regardless at school holidays) could slow things down a bit.

Everyone should retire and just live off the Government Handouts. No need for work, no need for offices at home, no need for transport, no need for tourists to make money or even Exports to make money.
No need for Governments, Government employees, Prisons, Armed Forces, etc...smart phones, smart thinking.

And most importantly, no need for Banks...We could return to a cash strapped society. Real coins, just swap em.

Just a simple life. No flights of fancy, no keeping up with the Jones...no bailing out Air NZ....We could live in Paradise.....simply and easily.....(Some Hopes).