First thing’s first – I don’t think anyone could have done anything to prevent the level of disruption we are currently facing.
No amount of preparation could give adequate protection from a ‘once in a hundred years’ event. No amount of planning, stocking or preparing was going to cut it. Saying “we’re not prepared” applies to almost every country and every business. The answer is that it costs too much to be prepared for something so rare and so extreme as this.
So, I am not going to join the chorus of voices lamenting the ‘lack of preparation’. Instead, let’s focus on the need for businesses to have more flexibility in general. The ability to move locations, recover quickly from disruption or have multi-skilled people able to work remotely is always a good idea and should actually cost an organisation less than normal operations.
The theory of evolution by natural selection is sometimes called survival of the fittest. Fittest is sometimes mistaken for strength or physical/mental fitness but that’s misleading. Fittest here simply means ability to adapt and reproduce or grow in a business context. As in, roll with the punches.
Without sounding self-serving, Arcus has been able to react relatively well during this time. We started the company in 2009 and were one of the early ‘born in the cloud’ businesses.
We have only ever used software as a service (SaaS) internally on any major system – Google Apps, Xero, Atlassian stuff, later joined by Salesforce.com (not forgetting Zoho in the early years), XCDHR, Slack and a few others on the project management side. So for us, the move from office to home was smooth and uneventful, apart from ordering a few extra handsets and laptops and provisioning a few more AWS Workspaces for people.
Yes, we did invoke our business continuity plan (BCP) to provide device access for 10 people or so but we normally work 2-3 days from home per week so it seems pretty much business as usual for most of us. As a result, we’ve been able to authorise and encourage our staff to volunteer for the national support effort or spend more time informally helping at home or locally.
There have been increased efforts from our social activity and culture team. They have been trying to improve our organisational cohesion by creating virtual quiz teams, MMO gaming, virtual poker and a virtual pub (The Director’s Head…) – all bringing us together, irrespective of location.
As our customers have come under massive strain, we have had to also make sure that we supported them as much as possible, with flexibility, sensitivity to their challenges, and a very soft commercial approach. In turn, our customers have responded by being more understanding of priorities.
Denis Kaminskiy is the co-founder of Arcus Global.