COVID-19 Response

ORIMA RESEARCH – COVID-19 RESPONSE

Business Continuity and Risk Management Measures in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last updated:  15May 2020

Quarantine Arrangements

To support Australian Government and State/Territory Government measures to minimise transmission of the virus, ORIMA requires all our staff to immediately inform our HR team and isolate themselves for 14 days if any of the following isolation circumstances advised by the Australian Government apply to them:

  • you have COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020.

Any ORIMA staff who are required to isolate themselves (and are medically fit for work) will be provided with the ability to work from home (using their existing laptop or one of ORIMA’s spare laptops) by accessing ORIMA servers via the secure ORIMA Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Staff may only attend an ORIMA office when they are feeling well.  Any ORIMA staff who are feeling unwell must stay at home (take personal/ sick leave).  If the symptoms staff have indicate a possibility of COVID-19 infection (e.g. fever, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath), staff must check their symptoms using healthdirect’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker:  https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/healthdirect-coronavirus-covid-19-symptom-checker.  Staff must follow the instructions provided by this tool and get tested for COVID-19 if that is recommended.  Staff who are tested for COVID-19 may only attend the ORIMA office if they receive a negative COVID-19 test result (i.e. the test shows that they are not infected).

Suspension of Face-to-Face Data Collection

Due to the relatively high risk of COVID-19 transmission during face-to-face data collection methods such as focus groups and interviews, ORIMA has suspended these methods.  Alternative methods such as telephone interviews and online focus groups are being deployed in an effective manner to address research project requirements.

Working from Home Protocols

All ORIMA permanent staff have been set up with the ability to work from home via secure VPN access, and most staff have been working predominantly from home during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Maintaining appropriate information security standards is very important to ORIMA.  When working from home, staff are required to adhere to the following policies to uphold our information security:

  • Do not print out ORIMA documents – to minimise the risk of unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.
    • Consistent with this directive, staff are not permitted to take ORIMA printers home.
  • Do not email/ copy ORIMA files to non-ORIMA computers.
  • Screen lock your computer or shut it down when leaving your computer unattended.
  • Do not take ORIMA hard copy documents home.

Given our ability to work remotely with appropriate information security measures in place, we can complete projects on time and to our usual high quality standards.

Given the significant recent improvement in the COVID-19 risk environment and the associated national plan to gradually ease restrictions from May to July 2020, ORIMA will be implementing a phased return to office-based work:

  • Phase 1:  Staff work from the office for a minimum of 2 days a week;
  • Phase 2:  Staff work from the office for a minimum of 3 days a week; and
  • Phase 3:  Staff work 100% from the office.

In each phase, exceptions may be made for staff who:

  • live with a vulnerable person (e.g. aged relative, relative with a chronic medical condition);
  • believe that they are in a high-risk group themselves in relation to COVID-19; or
  • are unable to attend the office due to child care or other caring responsibilities as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

These phases will be implemented in our offices over different timeframes aligned with the directions of the relevant state/territory government.  Given current ACT Government advice, ORIMA’s Canberra office will be moving to Phase 1 from Monday 18 May.  ORIMA staff based in our Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne offices will continue to work from home unless there is a clear need to be in the office.  Examples of clear need include:

  • To support other ORIMA staff (e.g. IT support, admin support).
  • To run online focus groups/ do other tasks where internet speed is critical.
  • To work on project tasks where face-to-face co-location has significant efficiency benefits (e.g. analysis workshops, conducting interviews).
  • To rapidly process automated reports.
  • To do analysis on air-gapped systems.
  • To look after the IT infrastructure.
  • To obtain access to physical files.
  • To pick up equipment (e.g. chairs, dongles, screens) to optimise workstations at home.
  • To preserve/ support mental health, wellbeing and relationships at home.

Critical Corporate Service Continuity Measures

We have put in place back up/ redundancy arrangements for critical ORIMA corporate services, including IT infrastructure, payroll/accounts and HR services.  For each service, there are at least 3 staff who have the capability of maintaining delivery of essential services.   Our online surveys are hosted on Microsoft Azure secure servers in Sydney – this is Australia’s most secure and reliable cloud platform, with considerable redundant capacity – the risk of online survey non-availability is therefore very low.

Supplier Business Continuity

ORIMA has consulted with our key suppliers (online panel providers, qualitative research recruiters and telephone survey fieldwork companies).  Each supplier has implemented sound risk management strategies relating to COVID-19, thereby minimising the risk of service disruption.  However, particularly in the case of call centre telephone survey fieldwork providers, there remains a risk of service interruption should provider staff be infected.

Should one or more of these suppliers experience service disruptions, ORIMA would be able to obtain services from other quality-accredited suppliers.  Nevertheless, projects involving telephone survey fieldwork may be subject to delays on account of the pandemic.

Hygiene

In line with Australian Government guidance, ORIMA encourages all staff to take the following personal hygiene measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • put used tissues straight into the bin
  • wash your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • use alcohol-based hand sanitiser – these have been placed at reception, in the kitchen and at each desk in each office
  • use sanitiser each time you enter the office and before using commonly used items/touch-surfaces (e.g. hot water kettle handle, photocopier lids, fridge handles, computer keyboards in boardrooms)
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces such as benchtops, desks and doorknobs
  • clean and disinfect frequently used objects such as mobile phones, keys, wallets and work passes
  • increase the amount of fresh air available by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • if unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact).
  • wash your hands in the kitchen before using the facilities (e.g. microwave) to make your lunch
  • use a paper towel to open the doors when returning from the toilets

Face masks have been made available to staff should they wish to use one.  Cleaners attend ORIMA’s offices 5 days a week and use hospital-grade cleaning products.

Social Distancing

ORIMA’s offices are large enough to accommodate a minimum of 4 sqm of space per staff member.

In line with Australian Government guidance, ORIMA encourages all staff to take the following social distancing measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • keep 1.5 metres away from others
  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • use tap and pay instead of cash
  • travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
  • avoid public gatherings and at risk groups
  • hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • stagger lunch breaks to ensure that there should be no more than 2 people in the kitchen at any one time
  • do not share food with other staff
  • in the office, wash your own plates, cutlery, cups etc. (or place in dishwasher)
  • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • avoid non-essential travel
  • deliveries to the offices are restricted to essential items such as IT equipment and stationery to keep the number of non-staff entering the premises to a minimum

Risk Monitoring

ORIMA Directors are monitoring COVID-19 developments on a daily basis and stand ready to take further action swiftly should that be required.

Communication

We will promptly inform our staff and clients of any relevant developments in our response to the COVID-19 epidemic.