Telstra tells 20,000 staff to work from home for rest of month

Telecommunications giant Telstra has ordered all Australian staff to work from home from Monday as the coronavirus crisis continues to intensify, a move that will affect nearly 20,000 workers across the country.

Telstra's Australian-based staff will be required to work remotely until the end of March, with the telco also scrapping all events and meetings of more than 25 people effective immediately. Cancellations of all domestic travel were also put in place from today.

From Monday all Australian-based Telstra staff will be required to work from home.

Telstra's decision is expected to affectclose to 20,000 employees, which is about 70 per cent of its total workforce.

Alex Badenoch, Telstra's group executive for transformation, communications and people, said the decision was a precautionary step.

"We want to highlight that this is not due to a case of COVID-19 within our team," Ms Badenoch said. "This unprecedented situation requires decisive action, and it’s important we are flexible and ready to adapt to this evolving situation.

"It is a practical response to decisions and guidelines from experts being made around us."

Telstra is one of a number of major corporations taking precautionary measures at the virus spreads across the country. On Friday, the government said that mass gatherings of more than 500 people are banned from Monday and urged Australians to rethink non-essential overseas travel plans.

Rival telecommunications provider Optus is providing customers with additional data as people continue to work remotely. On Friday evening Optus said it would provide free add-on data during April. A number of organisations, including Vodafone Hutchison Australia, have temporarily evacuated their offices over the last few weeks, while ViacomCBS informed staff today they needed to work from home from Monday.

Over recent weeks, many companies had already banned travel to high-risk countries and placed hand sanitiser in offices. Thousands of staff from NBN and Tabcorp worked remotely on Thursday as part of a test run.

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