We’ve all seen the devastating images from Australia, where wildfires have burned some 10 million hectares (15.6 million acres), an area roughly the size of England. Some 28 people have lost their lives, including four firefighters. Countless millions of animals have been lost.

Has corporate real estate been affected?

“The fires have largely impacted bush communities, not so much cities, and thus from a business operations standpoint we are largely unaffected, observing our offices are city based and so too the vast majority of our staff,” said John Corbett, Head of APAC and Japan, Workplace Resources, Cisco, which has a major office in North Sydney, just across the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge.

However, what has become rather trying, he stated, is air quality. Indeed, as reported in USA Today, smoke from the fires is traveling all the way around the globe.

“There are notable demands being directed towards the company in that respect and the irony is, air quality is arguably the best within our offices when compared to the home, noting the air circulation within the buildings are largely filtered,” he pointed out.

“Regardless, the staff are understandably somewhat rattled, and we have handed out masks, etc. The take up of those masks is arguably negligible and the conversation has turned to enhancing air quality within the workplace beyond just the standard filtering. We have however not gone that far yet.”

There were some reports in other buildings in Sydney of fire alarms being activated because of the smoke, he said. “I can only imagine that has impacted productivity, but we were not affected by that. Furthermore, with our strength in remote working, if someone (myself actually) wanted to work from home ‘just in case,’ then we could.  Also, productivity loss as a result of things like loss of internet connection has not been a problem for us, as far as I am aware. So, from a Cisco standpoint, we are pretty much business as usual, all things considered.”

Some good news is found in the latest weather forecast: New South Wales was expected to receive some 10 to 15 millimeters of rain on Thursday, 16th January.