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COVID-19 Precautions and Preparations

Mar 13, 2020

Updated May 8, 2020View Update

The last few weeks have seen the worldwide spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) become increasingly serious, and we have all been watching with growing concern. Currently the public health risk to Canadians remains low, but as we have seen with the increase in cases in just the last couple of days, things can change very quickly. 
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) have now officially declared a pandemic, and it is our responsibility as part of the global community to work as one. Our Noble Promise, the relentless pursuit for the success of others, is just as applicable to the wellbeing of our staff as it is to the business success and preparedness of our clients. 

What We Are Doing 

Last week, CompuVision began to implement a range of measures designed to protect our employees, our clients, our vendors and our communities. 

  • We implemented an at-home work policy 
  • We moved to video conferencing for meetings 
  • We implemented daily disinfection of high-touch surfaces 
  • We brought our staff up to date with handwashing and hygiene best practices 
  • We installed hand sanitizers throughout our offices 
  • We have stopped travelling for business in all but essential cases 
  • We are closely monitoring the pandemic, and are updating our responses as necessary 

Any member of our team who has travelled to or been in close contact with someone who has come from a high-risk area must work from home. If COVID-19 continues spreading in our communities, which seems increasingly likely, anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) will need to stay at home. These measures are in keeping with WHO’s Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 recommendations. 

Helping Our Clients Prepare 

Many of our clients are assessing their preparedness for a potential lockdown or widespread self-quarantine. CompuVision has your back, and we are here to help. 
 
First and foremost, wherever possible, ensure essential members of your teams can work from home. Speak to your Strategic Advisor (SA) to learn about your work from home options. Please do not call the service desk for work from home information.  
 
Next, consider adopting technologies that can enable a productive remote workplace. Most of CompuVision’s customers utilize Microsoft Office 365, and there is a wide range of tools available to ensure continued collaboration and productivity. With Microsoft Teams you can easily hold sales calls, vendor meetings, internal meetings, and more remotely, meaning that essential business processes do not have to be disrupted. 
 
For many, Microsoft Teams is already part of your Office 365 package. Here are some resources to help to get you started: 
  
How To Download Teams 
  
Microsoft Teams Video Training
  
Finally, your employees, customers, vendors, and investors may want to hear from you about your actions and any disruptions for which they should prepare. CompuVision is ready to provide advice and support in navigating conversations about your technical readiness. 

CompuVision Readiness 

CompuVision’s high-level business continuity plan has been implemented, and we have begun transitioning our staff to Work From Home. 
 
Our service desk remains operational, with calls and services routed as per our business continuity plan.  We are experiencing higher volumes than normal already and are adding further resources to our response teams. We ask for your patience as we deal with the higher volume of support requests. 
 
For the safety of your people and ours, we anticipate we will need to restrict travel further in the coming days and weeks.  Depending on how the situation unfolds, we may be required to limit onsite visits to essential work only. During this time we will be assessing projects that have onsite work that is scheduled. Your Project Manager will reach out to discuss any changes. 
 
We will continue to provide remote support as per normal, routing requests to available technicians, and at this time any emergencies or critical services that require onsite assistance will still be available.  
 
COVID-19 has disrupted the global supply chain. This may result in temporary delays, and we ask you to have patience with us in fulfilling orders. CompuVision has increased our inventory and we are confident in our ability to respond quickly with asset replacements, additions, and upgrades. However, if you do have approved projects with specific hardware requirements in the pipeline, please plan accordingly, and do be prepared for some delay in product delivery. The entire IT industry is scrambling after the same limited stock. If you currently have approved project work your Project Manager will be reaching out to discuss any impacts to your specific project with delays. 

Conclusion

We do not want to overreact, and we will continue to take guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization. 
 
We will send out further updates as the situation at CompuVision and in our community develops. In the meantime, we send our very best wishes to you and your family.


Update: March 17

As the COVID-19 virus streaks through communities around the world, another threat is making itself known: cyber criminals. For many companies, new remote work options have been quickly put together and security has been relaxed to allow more staff members to work from home. This, coupled with fears over the virus itself, has given cyber criminals an opportunity to exploit WFH via phishing and RDP/remote access vulnerabilities. Find out how to keep you and your staff safe.


Update: March 18

CompuVision joins the #YegTechCares initiative. We are proud of all our staff that are supporting the community during this time, and are matching donations to the Edmonton Food Bank. Find out more:

https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/covid-19-edmonton-tech-industry-seeks-an-hour-of-your-wages-for-food-bank/


Update: March 23

CompuVision’s open-access resource page is now live. We have gathered resources to support our clients and the business community through this time. Check back regularly for the latest IT tips, guidance and tutorials to stay secure and productive while working remotely.

Sign up for free live training webinars weekly and view the popular topics hitting our service desk. Go to https://compuvision.biz/it-resources/


Update: March 31

Update to our clients:

During this time, we are experiencing heightened call volumes. Despite the call volumes of the last two weeks, we still saw a 94% average customer survey score while moving thousands of end users so quickly to work from home. During this time, we continued our smilebacks program raising money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital during a record setting quarter of tickets and responses. We are proud of the work of our team and the repeated demonstration of our core values: Go Beyond, Serve As One, Be Curious.

At the same time, we’re seeing an increase of cybersecurity attacks, both social engineering and scans for things like unsecure systems and open RDP (remote desktop connection).  We are asking clients to be heightened in awareness for anything suspicious, and to use our resources page to learn more about cybersecurity best practices. We are hosting a live phishing training session on April 2nd for anyone interested in learning more about how to be vigilant during this time. Sign up here.

I want to thank all our staff for the tireless commitment they have to our clients and the community. The #YEGTECHCARES initiative, that asked our employees to donate one hour to the Edmonton Food Bank with a matching program from CompuVision, raised over $150,000 last week and continues to grow. See more at www.yegtechcares.com

David Bridges, President CompuVision


Update: May 8

The last few months have seen unprecedented changes in the way we are all living and working. At CompuVision we’ve altered almost every aspect of the way we do business, in order to remain on top of this extraordinary crisis.

We wanted to share what we’ve been doing, to help everyone we work with understand the changes we’ve made and how we’ve responded to the crisis. We wanted to let you know what we’ve done that went well, as well as taking a look at what we found harder to manage, and what we would do differently in the future. We’ll then look at what the future might hold, for us and for our clients.

We want to make it clear that we are not pandemic experts. The current situation represents uncharted waters for almost everyone, and we’ve just been doing our best to get a handle on navigating this pandemic.

We do think we took it more seriously than many others, and that our response was rapid. We ended up being about 2 weeks or so ahead of the game, which helped us enormously in the initial period.

So what did lockdown and the pandemic response look like for CompuVision?

We had over 200 employees working from home, almost immediately. We managed to transfer around 5000 of our clients employees to working from home situations within the first week of the pandemic response, which represented a huge effort on the part of our staff. Support ticket volume rose 86% in March compared to previous year, which goes to show how much more was going on during this time period.

Between March 10 and April 10 we received over 4,300 service desk calls, over double our usual monthly call average. We managed over 13,000 service tickets, and 31 emergency after-hours response tickets. Essentially from March 15th onwards our teams were working non-stop.

What went well?

The effort from our whole team was outstanding. Staff and techs from across the organization pulled together to handle the crisis, often taking on unfamiliar roles without a whisper of complaint. This allowed us to manage everything we had to manage in as short a period of time as possible.

We were able to activate our Automatic Ticket Controller (ATC) automation rollout. This was a huge success, and helped our teams in dealing with the unprecedentedly high volume of tickets we saw in March/April. Similarly we implemented our Self Help Area on the IT Resources page. The success of the IT Resources page can be seen by the fact that on Day 1 it received close to 10,000 visits, and it has averaged around 20,000 visits a week during the crisis.

We decided from day 1 that a ‘wait and see’ approach was not an option, and we undertook loads of modelling, delving into the worst case scenarios as we saw them, for us and for our clients, to get ready in case things got bad. We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best, and this allowed us to deal effectively with all eventualities as they popped up.

Listening to our team and taking advice and suggestions from across the organization really helped us. We rallied our leadership teams and created crisis management teams. Staff rallied, giving us a huge extra resource, and helped keep the culture of CompuVision alive even remotely. To date, we have been able to remotely onboard six new members of staff, who said they could feel the positive culture of the organization despite having never set foot in our offices.

We communicated early, and we communicated often. We tried to keep things as simple as possible, but at every stage we kept a steady flow of information and communication going to both staff and clients.

Finally, our global network proved invaluable. We have connections across the world, which we were able to leverage for advice, support and information.

What was tricky?

Of course, not everything was plain sailing, as you might expect during a global pandemic. We faced a number of issues which were challenging, and which we found particularly tricky to deal with.

Managing both our clients’ AND our own internal needs was a real challenge. We found it extremely difficult, particularly at the beginning when urgency was paramount, to balance the competing priorities of our internal requirements and what our clients were asking us for.

Even for us as a managed IT services provider, we were faced with some pretty complicated working-from-home needs, and not everyone found the transition to be a simple one. Some of our staff weren’t keen to move to a completely remote way of working, and did not have the requisite home set-up, space or internet speeds to switch over seamlessly. As working from home is likely to become far more prevalent even once the crisis is over, this is something we definitely need to address going forward.

Managing the transition across two countries, each with different ways of approaching the crisis, was a real challenge. We have 70 US employees, and the different approaches to dealing with the pandemic between different states in the US, and provinces in Canada caused us some difficulties.

Finally, at first we found it hard to ensure everyone transitioned to a home working routine in an effective yet healthy way. It was hard to make sure that all staff were keeping a routine, avoiding overwork, staying happy and healthy, and most importantly not feeling like they were always ‘on’. At the beginning we found that some people were ending up putting in 100+ hour weeks, which just wasn’t ok with our ethos and culture.

What would we do differently?

We fervently hope that there isn’t going to be a ‘next time’. But it would be foolish not to look at the lessons we’ve learned this time around, and think about what we might do differently if we are ever in a similar situation again.

Although we communicated early, and a lot, in the future we would try and make our crisis comms more effective. We got it done, but there is always room for improvement. It could have been better tracked, with a better rhythm and more consistency. We think that we ended up being too tactical, particularly in the early stages when other organizations were still uncertain that our approach was the right way to go, and so we should have shared WHY we were doing things to help navigate some of the pressures we were all facing.

We also discovered that we need a crisis response manual, and one that breaks down into departments. We are well acquainted with the need for disaster recovery plans, and we’re fully stocked on that front, but when confronted with a crisis of this type, and this scale, we found that we did not have a sufficient strategy in place to guide us in our response at the ready.

What does the future hold?

A number of things are going to change, some as a direct result of the crisis which we will have to implement, and some that we will take advantage of the situation to make better.

Communication

We need to be crystal clear with our change management comms, and ensure everyone understands all the intentional changes that will be taking place. All staff and clients will need to be made aware that it will not be business as usual when we return, and it will be important for us to clearly frame the new normal.

Building prep

We need to work out exactly what we need to do to make our offices safe and secure places to work. We need to understand what measures are needed, from walkthroughs, inspections, cleaning and staff testing right the way through to electrical and mechanical changes. We will have to do a full evaluation of all touch points in the office, and work out what needs to change and what can stay the same.

Workforce return

Getting our people back to the office will not happen overnight, and will most likely need to be a staged and phased process, with detailed social distancing plans. We will be looking to get our essential workers back in first, with those that can continue to work from home easily remaining remote. We are currently taking a good look at what measures we can take to adhere to best practices, like cutting down face-to-face meetings, reducing travel and so on. The main aim will be to reduce employee density in the office as much as possible.

Ultimately, there will be business models that change dramatically as a result of this crisis. Although it’s a difficult time it is important to seek out the positives, and see how things might change for the better. There are bound to be opportunities to come out of this troubling time to improve the way we work, and make life better for our staff and our customers, and we are 100% committed to this goal.

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