Spread out NZ safer for staff

The massive capacity of the World Trade Center buildings meant that even huge organisations could house their staff, and hence the majority of some companies lost their lives in last month's atrocity.

The massive capacity of the World Trade Center buildings meant that even huge organisations could house their staff, and hence the majority of some companies lost their lives in last month's atrocity.

New Zealand government agencies and firms spoken to by Computerworld believe that because large organisations' staff are usually more spread out in this country there is less risk of losing the majority of their staff should a similar disaster happen here.

Auckland City Council has "multiple city buildings" so it would be less at risk of losing all its staff in an attack -- though the WTC site covered nearly 6.5 hectares.

IT manager Ian Rae says the council could also use staff from its IT partner GEAC in Australia, Datacom, Compaq and Telecom.

The Police does not base executive members in the same place, but throughout all districts. Each service has a contingency plan to relocate staff and operations immediately.

The Inland Revenue Department says its staff stretch far and wide with regularly tested contingency plans.

Land Transport Safety Association spokesman Tony West says his staff are scattered around as this makes them best placed to do the agency's work. He believes it is not appropriate for staff to be centralised in single buildings for his and many other organisations.

Compaq communications director Ken Erskine says his firm operates across six sites across New Zealand and many of its HQ functions could be carried out from any of the six locations. Staff would have access to counselling services and Compaq has preferred supplier arrangements with recruitment firms "would ensure any emergency staffing requirements could be met".

Ross Turner of Pinnacle Recruitment says he backs up data daily and could reopen elsewhere within 24 hours.

If firms had to rebuild staff numbers, he advises they should not be seen poaching from others as it would backfire.

Companies would also have to be prepared to do much training and upskilling. He would advise them to approach universities for recruits, plus employment agencies, see whom could 'lend' them staff, and use contractors.

"I would imagine if something happened here, competitors would readily offer their support," Turner says.

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