The Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is disrupting our business and personal lives in ways we’ve never before experienced—and the situation is evolving rapidly. As I write this, the number of confirmed cases in the US is in the tens of thousands, and more than 13,000 lives have been lost around the world according to MarketWatch. A growing number of states, including DataCubes’ home state of Illinois, have issued lockdown orders for all but essential workers, and experts say a nationwide lockdown may soon be necessary as reported by Foreign Policy.
Although a pandemic such as this one brings business disruption, all businesses have a commitment to protect their employees and those they work with, as well as continue to serve their customers as best as they can. While tech companies might experience less disruption than sectors like hospitality or trade, here at DataCubes we have learned that creating awareness and preparedness in an organization is crucial to achieve resilience. Here are some of the steps we are taking at DataCubes to minimize business disruption while prioritizing the well-being of all our employees:
- Initially, we provided guidelines to employees on how to stay healthy and minimize the risks to ourselves and others. We worked with our building landlord to ensure the building was being cleaned thoroughly each day, and we provided wipes and disinfectants we could all use to wipe down our workspaces. To avoid adding to any sense of hype, we directed employees to reliable sites for the latest information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We also set up a system for people to keep everyone up to date on their travel plans and report on illness. As the situation became more serious, we decided to transition to a full-time remote work environment.
- We started out with a 2-day complete 'work from home' to rigorously test our infrastructure, ensuring it can handle the tech team’s workloads and allow all of us at DataCubes to work productively. As a tech company, a critical challenge was ensuring we would have robust networking capacity for working remotely. Reliable VPN performance is critical so we can all stay connected. It’s especially important so remote tech workers can access tools such as GitLab software development lifecycle management tools and Jira work management software, which they use on a daily basis. Our DevOps team has installed networking technologies from Cogent, a Tier 1 internet service provider.
- To overcome the drawbacks of physical isolation, we have fully adopted Microsoft Teams and video conferencing to stay in touch. Recognizing the need for flexibility, we’re asking that employees be available during the core hours, and to use our “Good Morning” channel on Teams to let colleagues know of any availability exceptions. When people need to get in touch with each other, we are encouraging everyone to have a phone/video call instead of messaging. When we have conference calls, we are trying to use video capabilities more often.
I hope these steps can be helpful to everyone who is trying to adapt in this changing environment. These are challenging times, but I believe we will come out of them stronger and more committed than ever.