Long before COVID-19, the team at Anderson ZurMuehlen had our disaster recovery and work from home programs in place. When Coronavirus began making its way closer to Montana, leadership at the firm knew they needed to communicate their work plan quickly and clearly.
Here’s a breakdown of the actions we took to keep our employees, clients, and communities safe from catching and spreading this devastating disease.
- Friday, March 6, HR Director, John Cummings emailed the firm reminding employees to Do the Five: wash hands often, cough into the elbow, don’t touch the face, distance oneself, and stay home when sick. The Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services links were also shared, along with a reminder to consider getting a flu shot. Our firm’s health benefit plan also allows for Teledoc services, in which individuals can contact a physician and get a diagnosis over the phone. John then encouraged routine cleaning of workplaces, workstations, countertops, doorknobs, and reminded employees to update their emergency contacts in our cloud-based HR management system. Lastly, employees were told whom to contact with questions on our disaster recovery program, and given steps on how employees access their virtual machines from any computer, anywhere, anytime.
- Thursday, March 12, HR released a firm-wide email addressing traveling restrictions. The email announced the suspension of air-related business travel for audit employees for up to five weeks, as well as suspended auto business travel to locations with active cases of the disease. In addition to business travel, we discouraged any personal travel to areas of active COVID-19 cases. We requested that an employee returning from a location with active COVID-19 cases communicate with their manager, the risk manager, and the HR director before coming back into the workplace. Depending on that employee’s situation, circumstances may require the employee to work from home versus the office or the clients’ office for 14 days.
- Friday, March 13, we developed and communicated a plan to our employees in the event of school closures. The plan included an additional two weeks of paid leave to employees staying home to care for young children due to school closures.
- Saturday, March 14, we communicated to our employees when we would close an office, what would happen when an office was closed, and what to do in the meantime.
- Sunday, March 15, invoked our school closure plan immediately after the Governor’s announcement.
- Monday, March 16, our Directors quickly developed internal, external, and social media communications for employees, clients, and communities. CEO Don Laine knew we needed to act fast, especially given the social distancing rules in enforcement. Thankfully, Anderson ZurMuehlen already has a technology services unit in place, where they currently provide the firm’s cloud-based technology. The firm’s PwrCloud product was put in place years ago to allow employees flexibility in their work environment. Auditors have to be in the field a lot, and it made strategic business sense to build a product for the firm and other companies practicing the same flexible workspaces. Currently, Anderson ZurMuehlen Technology Services (AZTS) hosts desktop cloud-based solutions for companies across Montana, Salt Lake City, and Boise. Having this system in place, allowed the firm to react fast to social distancing, thereby protecting employees in our workplace. AZTS also specializes in IT security and has a dynamic and qualified team to manage cybersecurity and disaster recovery programs.
- March 16 & 17, employees and clients received an email from the firm delivering the following messages:
- With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to assure our clients and stakeholders that our attention and dedication to our clients are continuing without interruption. We continue to provide the highest quality service, while at the same time doing everything we can to limit the potential exposure to our employees, clients, and vendors. At this time, our offices remain open while using our technology to protect the health and well-being of our employees and clients. To minimize the potential spread of the virus and to support those with young children dealing with school closures, many of our employees will be working from home.
- Using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) on our PwrCloud platform, our employees can work anywhere at any time. To reduce group and in-person meetings, we are using our technology to minimize or eliminate in-person meetings whenever possible.
- We are also eliminating visits to our clients’ places of business whenever possible. As a result, we may contact you to reschedule any currently scheduled appointments or to arrange the collection of information from you or the delivery of our work product.
- We also have remote and secure ways to upload confidential information should you prefer to work remotely with us.
- As new information becomes available, we will continue to evaluate and keep you informed of our approach to COVID-19 and make any modifications we deem to be in the best interests of our employees, their families, and our clients.
- And finally, the firm recognizes that many businesses are continuing to struggle with their disaster recovery programs and work-from-home solutions. Given this, the firm is offering a no-cost subscription to its base cloud-remote-access offering. For more information on this limited offer, contact us at 833.447.3045.
We know these are uncertain times, but we’re here to help!