Priorities and Principles as we plan for the impact of COVID-19

Our initial focus when the COVID-19 started to spread was on safety. We wanted to minimise the risk of being exposed to the virus through our work. This meant stopping meeting up and curtailing all travel.

Now, our focus is turning to the challenges that we’re likely to face through the coming months.

We’re focused on 3 things in addition to the safety and wellbeing of everyone here:

  1. Service Continuity: We need to protect our ability to do our work.
    We need to prepare for if people fall ill, need to quarantine, and/or need time off to look after those around them. We will face disruptions to our daily routines as we shift to working from home, handle additional childcare responsibilities, or just navigate the challenges of going out to get food. We’re all going to be dealing with a lot of additional anxiety and worry and will all need more flexibility and support. Social distancing is going to impact people, especially if it lasts longer than a couple of weeks. We also need to ensure our infrastructure and tooling stay available, and have backups ready to go.
  2. Financial Survival: We need to adjust now to maximise our ability to come through.The economic damage globally is likely to be deep and long-lasting. We have to expect that this will lead to significant drop in sales. It could also cause existing clients to need to pause work or reduce their investments. In the worst scenarios we may find that we have significantly less paying work to do over the coming months. We need to do everything we can to protect the revenue we have, find creative ways to continue to sell, and keep our costs below our earnings. We need to ensure we have credit and funding options that we can rely on, and we need to explore all the government support that we may be able to access.
  3. Long Term Sustainability: We don’t know how long this will last.We don’t know whether this will be over relatively quickly or whether we will see a significant impact for a long time. We cannot approach planning thinking that we just need to get through the next few months, as that risks us using up our reserves to get to the end of that few months only then to find that things haven’t improved and we’re now in a worse situation. Our plan must put us a position we can sustain long term. 

We have a GitHub project board where we are breaking down the work we’re doing. You are welcome to follow along, but you don’t need to, we’ll be announcing changes and reaching out if/when we need input. Like the survey that Siobhan sent out yesterday for example.

Company Priorities Through This Period

We need to reprioritise as a company to face the challenges ahead. This means that all teams need to review their work and focus on the following:

  1. We need to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone in the company.
  2. We need to ensure we’re able to continue working and delivering to our clients.
  3. We need to keep our expenses below our revenue.
  4. We need to protect the revenue we have and try everything we can think of in terms of finding more.
  5. We need to survive together as a company through this global crisis.  

For some people, not a lot will change but others may need to completely rethink what your priorities are over the coming months.

Working Principles Through COVID-19

In such unusual and precarious circumstances, we are all going to have to pull together to ensure the company’s long-term success and survival. Every individual contribution matters and we need to pull together. If we want to get through this we need to accept that it’s going to be tough but I’m confident that by supporting each other we will do it. 

In order to be able to focus on our priorities, we have come up with some principles which should help to guide decision-making and behaviour when necessary. These will help get us through the next few months. They apply across roles, teams, and departments.

  • We should prioritise billable work.
  • Everyone in every team across the company should reprioritise their current tasks based on company priorities and be ready to switch to critical tasks. 
  • Everyone will need to be flexible and adapt to the changing situation. 
  • We should be open to working outside our normal functions or team, e.g. communications or admin roles supporting account management and sales, product team supporting client services. 
  • We will be sensitive to the fluid nature of each-other’s local situation and try to accommodate any emergent needs.  
  • We should all be understanding if another human needs to take time-off unexpectedly
  • We should ask for help even if we don’t know what help we need or who can help us
  • We should be ready to step in and help other humans who might be struggling.
  • We need to proactively update the company on our status (we are currently setting up a channel for this). 

We will do everything we can to get through this.

Whilst we don’t yet know all challenges we’ll face through the coming months, nor exactly what we’ll need to do to get through them, as a company we will do absolutely everything we possibly can to get us all through this together. The leadership team commits to being open and transparent with everyone about the situation as it unfolds, even if dire.

I want to reassure you that we want to come through this period with every human still at the company and we will do everything possible to ensure that your job remains secure and will explore all possible options before redundancy. We’re fortunate that our immediate financial position is good and we’re not in danger over the next few weeks, instead we can focus on what sensible adjustments we can make now to ensure we’re safe longer term.

I also want to make it clear that we are planning for a range of scenarios, including the worst cases. Just because we are planning for something doesn’t mean that it will or is even likely to happen. But, it’s better to be prepared.

What Can We Each Do?

This is going to be a challenging time for everyone, but by coming together and supporting each other we will get through it. Stay open to those around you, and continue sharing your own situation, fears, and worries. We will all need to stay flexible through this time, we will have to do some things differently, and be willing to jump in to help each other.

What’s Next?

As our risk and contingency planning progresses we will continue to share updates. As we have specific plans, decisions, or changes to share we will post them to announcements. I will share updates on our financial situation and planning as soon as we have the scenario planning done, as well as backup plans for key roles and projects across the company. You can expect this to happen frequently over the coming few weeks and some of these initiatives will require active participation on your part.

Any questions are welcome at any time.