IBM COVID-19 Response FAQ

IBM COVID-19 Response FAQ

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Last updated 11:37PM EST, 21 January 2022

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Learn how IBM is keeping our employees safe and our clients up and running during this pandemic while planning for the future.

What are IBM's efforts to keep clients and business partners safe, and how will we continue to work together during this COVID-19 pandemic?

  • IBM is protecting our clients, partners and communities with robust business continuity and pandemic response operations aligned with recommendations of the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and governmental regulations. IBMers have clear and specific guidance to handle  a variety of scenarios, and we are regularly reminding teams of the simple, effective health tips such as not shaking hands, social distancing and hand washing. The vast majority of IBMers in affected areas will continue to work from home unless they provide an essential function.
  • We continue to have stringent travel restrictions in place. Rest assured, however, that IBMers are traveling to your locations to support your essential activities and to provide on-site repair services if they cannot be done virtually. If the work can be done virtually, we will coordinate with your teams to make that happen.
  • Decisions about IBM Garages and other co-creation activities are being made on a case-by-case basis in cooperation with clients and within local context. Video conferencing and other collaboration tools are being used to bridge gaps.
  • When meetings do occur in-person at an IBM location, there is a screening process for visitors to limit possible disease spread to IBM employees, partners and our clients. Clients must complete the IBM Visitor Screening Questionnaire no more than 24 hours before visiting the IBM facility. Hosts will e-mail this questionnaire to the visitor(s) before the meeting. Visitors will also be provided with masks at the reception and security desks.
  • Data center services continue without interruption. IBM has Business Continuity Plans, which are tested on a regular basis. We will continue to assess the COVID-19 situation and will invoke Business Continuity Plans on a site-by-site basis as local conditions require.

When will IBM employees return to workplaces?

  • Protecting the health and safety of our employees is the paramount factor in any decision as to when our workforce will begin moving back to the office.
  • IBM employees will begin returning to the office based on local pandemic conditions and following global standards concerning health screening, personal protective equipment (PPE), space planning, social distancing, building services and commuting safety.
  • A government’s lifting of stay-at-home-orders is only the first step as we consider returning. IBM employees will return when both public health authority guidelines and IBM global policies and standards are met. Even then, IBM employees will return to workplaces in waves and a vast majority of IBMers will continue to work from home.
  • Select employees will return only once we have readied the workplace. Future waves will be determined based on careful assessment of the market-specific health and policy landscape.
  • You can read more by downloading IBM’s Return to Workplace Playbook.

Which IBM employees will be asked to return to the office first?

  • In addition to those IBMers already performing essential work on location at IBM/client sites that cannot be done remotely, IBM sellers and services practitioners may start returning to client sites and IBM offices with appropriate safeguards.
  • Additional employees like physical science researchers who need to work in their labs or data analytics roles that need more server bandwidth than they can get at home are also being prioritized.
  • These IBMers will return once permissible by government ordinance and when the pandemic cases have stabilized locally.
  • Our guidance continues to be based upon data-driven, evidence-based practices and policies, relying on a range of market-specific health and policy directives.

How is IBM protecting clients from cybersecurity criminals who are working to capitalize on COVID-19 uncertainty?

  • First, IBM is helping our clients stay on top of the latest threat intelligence as attackers take advantage of this type of uncertainty. We are offering no-charge access to COVID-19 / Coronavirus threat intelligence collections on the IBM X-Force Exchange. Read the Blog.
  • Second, IBM is helping to secure a rapidly growing remote workforce. As our clients alter their operations and security programs to protect their employees, students and society at large, IBM has a number of solutions that can help them make this transition. We are offering extended, no-charge access to technologies including MaaS360 and Cloud Identity to new clients for 90 days. Customers can also continue to take advantage of Quad9 for free. Read the Blog.
  • Third, IBM is helping our clients assess and take action to address new vulnerabilities in their organizations leveraging the capabilities and expertise of our X-Force Red offensive security team. Learn how to safeguard organizations and employees in work-from-home environments with best practices and tips from the hackers of X-Force Red. Read the Blog / Register for the IBM Security webinar on 3/26.
  • Fourth, with the added demands of a remote workforce, IBM can help clients with impacted resources virtually extend their security operations. We offer virtual expertise and resources with global 24x7 threat monitoring and response with IBM Managed Security Services and remote expertise to quickly optimize client security controls, review policies and deploy more capacity to support a client's remote workforce.

What security guidance can IBM offer as clients increasingly pivot to a work-from-home model during the COVID-19 pandemic?

How is IBM protecting its data centers?

  • We have Business Continuity Plans which are tested on a regular basis and we will invoke those plans on a site-by-site basis as local conditions and governmental mandates require.
  • We have instituted a screening process for visitors at every IBM location, including data centers, to limit potential exposure of IBM employees and our clients. Inside our facilities, we are practicing social distancing, increasing the frequency of cleaning, providing hand sanitizers and masks and monitoring supplies of employee personal health equipment.
  • We also have identified services which are critical to our clients' operations, as well as our own business needs, and our teams are ready to limit data center workload to key activities if necessary and are prepared to perform those tasks with reduced staffing.

How is IBM protecting its employees who have critical client roles at an IBM data center or at a client site that cannot go unstaffed?

  • For employees working in our facilities and data centers or at client sites, we are taking the appropriate safety measures following governmental directives and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization.
  • Additional precautions to keep IBMers and guests safe include:
    • Daily health precertification with at-home self-screening
    • IBM-issued masks
    • Sufficient workspaces with distancing of desks & seats, floor markers, additional congestion elimination, some common areas closed
    • Enhanced cleaning; increased air ventilation; modified food services
    • Established management protocols for COVID-19 cases (client sites included)

How will IBM provide continuity of service during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Providing contracted support services continues to be a major focus of IBM’s efforts during this pandemic. As part of our pandemic planning process, IBM has identified services which are critical to its own and its clients’ operations. We expect to leverage global and national infrastructure, data centers and service professionals as required and where available. If appropriate, we will employ remote connectivity methods, both from employees’ homes and secondary sites.
  • IBM’s global presence, integrated infrastructure and unique capabilities as an on-demand business help give it the ability to respond to disasters. IBM’s timely and targeted response to earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding around the world has enabled thousands of IBM clients to recover applications, data and networks through the transfer of those vital assets from client production facilities to IBM recovery centers.
  • Just as IBM is prepared to deal with natural disasters, it is also prepared to react with speed and diligence to other major threats, such as a global pandemic. Public health authorities, governments and business enterprises around the world continue to review existing pandemic conditions. In response, our preparedness and response strategy, already extensive, continues to evolve and expand.
  • Like many businesses, though, IBM is reliant upon the availability of power, telecommunications, transport and other infrastructure services. We also operate within the framework of applicable government mandates. The failure of basic infrastructure services, obligations imposed by local governments, such as data sovereignty, and the nature and severity of a pandemic all will be factors affecting IBM’s ability to deliver services to its clients.
  • However, IBM’s business continuity plans, which include our Global Pandemic Plan, are designed to be flexible and adaptable to reflect conditions as they develop. We also take direction from governments, and emergency and health organizations. IBM’s strategy addresses ongoing maintenance of our plans, including regular updates and testing.

What if I need an IBMer on-site at my location?

  • We are closely monitoring recommendations from The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And we are focused on IBMers staying safe, healthy and ready to help our clients. That means ensuring continuity of service and delivery for client mission-critical operations, while looking for opportunities to adapt and advance their business in this new reality. In short, we are fully open for business and committed to help our clients stay the same.
  • Rest assured, IBMers will be permitted to travel to your locations to support your essential activities and to provide on-site repair services if they cannot be done virtually. If the work can be done virtually, we will coordinate with your teams to make that happen. Where meetings can occur in-person our team is ready to participate and will follow any screening procedures you might have in place as well as IBM’s protocols.

What is IBM doing to ensure that it will continue to have an adequate supply chain of parts for orders?

  • While it's normal for IBM to monitor supplier status closely through its global management system, we have enhanced our processes and communication during this pandemic as we monitor changes in demand and assess lines of supply, commitments, logistics and contingency plans – down to the parts level.
  • We are in constant contact with our Business Partners and supply chain members and will provide updates as the circumstances evolve.

Accelerate discovery

Learn how IBM is helping to accelerate research for the doctors, scientists and organizations working to decode and defeat the COVID-19 virus.

IBM Micromedex and DynaMed

IBM Micromedex is one of the largest online reference databases for medication information. It is used by more than 4,500 hospitals and health systems worldwide to support decision-making in medication therapy management, disease and condition management, toxicology, alternative medicine and patient education.

High Performance Computing Consortium

The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium is a unique private-public effort spearheaded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy and IBM to bring together federal government, industry, and academic leaders who are volunteering free compute time and resources on their world-class machines.

Trusted information

Learn how IBM is providing accurate information from reliable sources to help you make better decisions for yourself, your business and your community.

Data from the Weather Channel

The Weather Channel app and will bring together trusted data from state and local governments, the World Health Organization and CDC to help users track the virus. Features include news, visualizations, a detailed incident map and more.

IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens

IBM Research, Watson and Global Services teams have joined forces to quickly develop the Watson Assistant for Citizens - an AI-powered virtual agent that can be used by government agencies to provide citizens with key information on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

  • This tool will help alleviate the pressure on contact centers, while providing consistent and accurate responses to residents via voice calls or text chat.
  • IBM is offering this capability to governments, healthcare and academic institutions via the IBM Cloud, free of charge for at least 90 days, along with access to IBM experts who will educate organizations and assist them with setting up and tailoring for their citizens.

Resiliency and adaptation

Learn how IBM is helping to enable resilient models for living, working and conducting business during times of uncertainty and crisis.

Call for Code

The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge is expanding its focus to tackle the effects of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. Technology solutions can help seize and reduce the impact this pandemic has on our daily lives. Now is the time to unite and act swiftly.

Resources for remote learning

IBM has experience, tools, and resources that can help ensure learning never stops.

IBM Institute for Business Value

The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) collaborates with industry professionals, leading-edge clients, academics, and a wide range of IBM consultants and subject matter experts around the world.

Worldwide Health Resources

Find trusted links to sources you can trust on the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the World Health Organization's role in this crisis?

The World Health Organization's (WHO) primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations system.

Where can I get more information about the COVID-19 virus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the trusted source for all things related to the coronavirus.

For more coverage of IBM’s response to the coronavirus, visit the IBM Newsroom

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