Melodie Bond-Hillman, Ph.D.
Sr. Manager, Human Resources & Administration
How We Prepped for Covid-19
As a cybersecurity company in Southern California, fueled by a culture of transparency and caring for our employees and customers, we live and operate by our mission: “We protect your data as if it’s our own.” We approached the Covid-19 threat the same way we approach cybersecurity threats, with extreme vigilance and seriousness.
How did we protect our employees and prepare our organization to keep running for an indeterminate amount of time?
We feel like we started planning for the potential spread of Covid-19 over two months ago. The flu season hit our headquarters office pretty hard. We had more people out with the flu or taking care of kids with the flu, than in previous years. Because of that, we had already communicated to our staff that they should stay home if they’re not feeling well or have been taking care of those who are sick. We already decided to be flexible with sick time as we saw it being used up before the end of February.
Our perspective was this:
Whether they can or can’t do their job remotely – if you ask them to stay home then it has got to be with full pay.
It’s better for everyone that we address this without punishing the sick person and also keeping the rest of our team safe. As a company, we felt that if we had the ability to make these accommodations, it’s much better that we:
- Not take the chance an employee might be really quite sick but are reluctant to use up sick/vacation days in case they need them in the future.
- Not risk the rest of our staff feeling we don’t view their health and safety as a high priority.
- Remember that a company with everyone sick, can’t function and service their customers.
XYPRO’s customers are the largest banks and financial institutions in the world. It’s our customers’ responsibility to be available to serve the public. The potential snowball effect is enormous.
When we saw events unfolding in China and realized the impact it could have, we started drafting a plan. We were asked about the existence of our Pandemic Business Continuity Plan by one of our customers at the end of January. As we saw events escalating and replicating in Italy and Germany, we plugged ourselves into the equation, assessed our risk level and began to act quickly to get out in front of whatever may be coming.
Here’s what we did:
- Paid close attention to events happening globally and politically and anticipated how these could replicate themselves in areas where we have employees and customers.
- Took steps to increase our hygiene, cleaning and disinfection of the workplace.
- Posted additional visual reminders about hygiene & handwashing.
- Educated employees on CDC guidelines to minimize risk.
- Increased flexibility with sick time, and work from home arrangements.
- Agreed on specific escalation criteria and implemented each step within our Business Continuity Plan.
- Shared our Business Continuity Statement on our website.
- Communicated this plan to employees and gave them time to prepare before each step.
- Tested our Business Continuity Plan with a 100% work remotely “dress rehearsal.”
- Surveyed all our employees to identify any gaps in the work remotely plan and took suggestions on how to improve the process.
- Trusted employees to communicate their concerns regarding potential exposure and to self-quarantine and make work from home arrangements as required.
- Put employee safety first by restricting all business travel, then suspended all business travel as the situation escalated.
- Postponed events, conferences and large-scale meetings.
- Implemented mandatory work from home protocol when we deemed it necessary.
- Utilized our (already in place) Emergency Communication Management System (Everbridge) which enables us to deploy multi-modal communication to employees in an emergency.
The most important thing we did was be brutally transparent in our communications and honest about what we knew and what we didn’t know. We also make it a point to improve on what we learn from past incidents including fires, earthquakes and weather-related emergencies. This event will change our landscape for sure and maybe even the way we work going forward, but we will emerge even stronger than before as an organization and apply what we have learned from this event to protect ourselves in the future.
At XYPRO we feel the benefits of making it as easy as possible for our employees to work from home well in advance of a national emergency being declared, far outweighs the costs, the potential risk of mass infection or people leaving us because we failed to prioritize them in a crisis.
We will only know in hindsight whether the decisions we made were 100% necessary, or if we were overly cautious, but we believe our caution is the reason we’ll even have the opportunity.