Vodafone's six-level Auckland headquarters will almost empty as the telco tests a possible response to coronavirus.

More than 1200 Auckland-based Vodafone permanent staff will work from home for one day this week as the company tests working from home at scale in order to simulate worst-case covid-19 scenarios.

Vodafone's offices will be empty this week. Photo / File
Vodafone's offices will be empty this week. Photo / File

The company said its contractors will also work remotely but did not disclose how many it currently has.

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Amid the outbreak, Kiwi employers have been reminded of their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which theoretically means employers should make sure they do everything practicable to prevent staff from getting coronavirus.

During Vodafone's tests, only a small number of "business-critical" staff, such as call-centre and network operations, will be allowed to access the company's North Shore building. Other staff can work from wherever they want as long as its offsite.

"This will allow Vodafone to thoroughly test its business continuity plan and work through any gaps that may be identified," a spokeswoman said. The corporate has, in recent weeks, set up an action group to check all its necessary infrastructure.

More trial closures are expected at Vodafone's other offices once the initial test has taken place.

The company said it has 2000 permanent staff across the country not including contractors.

On Monday, New Zealand Health IT chief executive Scott Arrol warned of the increased risk of security breaches due to more people working from home.

Vodafone said all its people have a managed Windows 10 device and the same level of connectivity to office IT and other resources no matter what location they are working from.

Vodafone's six-level headquarters. Photo / File
Vodafone's six-level headquarters. Photo / File

"All device and network activity is continually monitored for potential misuse or suspicious activity by local and Vodafone Group cyber defence teams and systems," the spokeswoman added.


Vodafone has also set travel restrictions and limited the size of meetings and events.

While Vodafone was sold by its UK parent last year to a New Zealand-Canadian consortium, it retains close ties with the global group.

Vodafone's Australian headquarters in Sydney had closed last Wednesday after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. They reopened on Monday.

UK media also reported some workers at Vodafone's global headquarters in the United Kingdom were told to work from home after a worker tested positive for covid-19.

Last week, the chair of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council, Fraser Whineray, told BusinessDesk that many big businesses had continuity plans in place because of the recent measles scare.

Spark said its employees have ceased business travel to high-risk countries, as identified in Ministry of Health guidelines.

"Where possible, we're leveraging technology to facilitate meetings with external suppliers or partners, and of course for our Spark people who are working from home," the company said in a statement.

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"As a technology company, most of our staff are already equipped with devices to enable remote working. If any of our people are feeling unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, we are asking them to stay home and advising them to seek appropriate medical advice.

"Our leaders play a key role in our approach, talking with our people regularly and assessing when and where individual working arrangements need to be changed."

- BusinessDesk