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In times of crisis, opportunity and responsibility go hand in hand. At HKBN, we consider profit to be a subset of purpose and we run HKBN for purpose. We see COVID-19 as an unprecedented calling to serve our community. In everything we do, and in every decision we take, our core purpose ‘Make our Home a Better Place to Live’ is present at all times. The most direct way we achieve this is through purposeful initiatives aimed at the local communities in which our talents operate.

When the devastating COVID pandemic first hit, we responded with decisive #ToughTimesTogether action – stepping up to lead by example – to show how businesses (those fortunate enough to do so) can give back to local communities and help overcome the challenges. And with the situation and its impacts changing over time, we holistically evolved our #ToughTimesTogether and related initiatives to better address the needs of different stakeholder groups.

Relief for customers
Early on, we offered a one-month service fee waiver to ease the financial burden for our full base of over 900,000 residential fixed-line services and enterprise customers in Hong Kong. In late January, we also offered free mobile office solutions for our enterprise customers until the end of May 2020. Our free solutions included the use of business continuity service centres as an office backup facility, mobile conferencing service and remote access service.

In February, in response to growing demand for business continuity outside the office, we teamed up with Microsoft to help customers in Hong Kong work from anywhere and access their company’s data and systems – free for three months.

Actions taken for our HKBN talents
All throughout the COVID threat, we exercised vigilance by encouraging office and back-end support talents (we don’t have staff at HKBN, but only talents) in Hong Kong to flexibly WFH. As this measure continues to be implemented, we’re also prioritising the safety of all front-line and core operational talents with the supply of protective necessities like face masks and hand sanitisers. In addition, split-office arrangements have been in place to mitigate the possible risk of cross-infection.

For our talents in mainland China, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia, similar flexible WFH and split office measures were implemented as the situation across these regions were monitored and reviewed on a regular basis. As a precaution, we’ve implemented a policy for any talent at risk of contacting the COVID-19 to undergo self-quarantine at home for 14 days, with full sick leave compensation provided.

Many of our talents have seen their overall family incomes adversely affected due to unprecedented global economic challenges posed by COVID. In April, we pledged to pass on talent-related government payout funds to our talents in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau and mainland China without reducing their current salaries paid by us, and will meet the headcount retention requirements as stipulated by the various subsidy terms.

And in view of a relatively high percentage of sales-related talents in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, a commission protection scheme was introduced to help those whose incomes were impacted during the pandemic period. True to our core purpose, we hope our talents and their families got much needed financial aid to get through these tough times.

To adapt to the new remote working normal amid COVID, our Talent Engagement Team took prompt action to transform our talent engagement events from physical to digital, constantly connecting talents and knowledge and strengthening the bonding of 1-HKBN through such sharing platform as WisCafé. In the past nine months, several virtual sessions were held, in total 2,550 total hours of learning was delivered for 2,293 participants across regions.

Comprehensive relief for the community
Moving beyond pure philanthropy, HKBN strives to ensure that people, especially youths and the underprivileged, can benefit by way of sustainability and empowerment. We’ve taken care of community groups via the following examples:

• Giving 10,000 disadvantaged families free broadband service for two years
• Giving free data SIM cards and computers to disadvantaged families with children eager to learn
• Passing on free data smartphones to care home residents & New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association Members

Career kickstarter for graduates
HKBN recognises that graduates are facing unprecedented challenges in job hunting under the COVID threat and prolonged economic downturn. The ‘Career Kickstarter for Graduates’ programme was launched in June to offer 96 fresh graduates a three-month learning and career opportunity. This programme aims to give them inspiring work experience and prepare them for their future career aspirations.

The unique HKBN culture gained from job-shadowing the top 1% of our Elite Sports Team and taking lead roles in various challenges has transformed them with know-how to get stuff done and greatly enhancing their future prospects. After programme completion, we offered full-time employment to 25 summer associates, double our normal annual intake.