We went big, and we went early — both for our staff and for the community.
As a tech startup, we are well used to flying in the eye of the storm. You could say uncertainty is our bread and butter, so is exponential growth. So with coronavirus on the horizon, we’ve gone big and we’ve gone early.
To help support our community and the health services stem the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve,” we at Kami have decided to trigger our Business Continuity Plan (BCP). As the crisis is getting more serious, we want to share our BCP (Business Continuity Plan) with you, whether you’re also a small business or an interested party, to help anyone looking for guidance on protecting your staff and locality.
— Chinmayee Phalnikar (@chinmayeedesign) March 16, 2020
What is a Business Continuity Plan anyway?
A BCP is your plan B. It pinpoints the most important parts of your business, identifies risks to them and prepares you to recover as quickly and easily as possible.
Your BCP shouldn’t be limited to what to do after a natural disaster. It should cover any risks or threats that could disrupt your most important business activities.
Why did we trigger our BCP now?
Thousands of schools around the world (and hundreds more every day) are now relying on Kami to keep students learning remotely during shutdowns. We need to be there for them and we want to protect our staff’s physical and mental health during stressful and uncertain times.
Although cases in New Zealand are low (only eight at the time of writing) we want to help the authorities slow the inevitable spread of the Covid-19 and “flatten the curve” to minimize the stress on the health system. To do this we have transitioned to working from home with immediate effect.
This is not about whether you are in an at-risk category from this virus, it’s not about any one of us individually, this is all about doing our bit for the community by helping slow the spread — #ThinkGlobalActLocal.
So, what is Kami’s BCP?
As well as being a cloud-based application vendor, Kami is also a fully cloud-based business.
Every tool, system or service can be accessed via a browser, from any (secure) device, anywhere, any time. No documents need to be printed. Any incoming documents are scanned. Our office is basically just one floor of a building with chairs, desks… and coffee.
Our BCP is, therefore, simpler than legacy IT businesses with office equipment, filing cabinets, and server rooms or data centers. As a tl;dr: it’s simply “log in from home, continue what you were working on”.
Are there any Covid-19-specific BCP measures?
1. Hygiene is a top priority during virus spread. We have made N95 Masks and hand sanitizers available to all staff.
2. The Kami team has also been provided with some Coronavirus-specific BCP guidelines:
- Practice social distancing: don’t meet up or congregate in your teams or workgroups.
- Stay connected: stay engaged with your team and colleagues, but stay home.
- Be on time: when you have an online meetup, please be on time.
What if staff need office gear to work from home?
Many of our staff were not properly equipped to work from home, so we brought in some quick action planning to help them get set up. This included:
- Kami laptops must be used at all times during work from home (not personal devices). This is because all Kami devices have been configured to conform to our strict data protection policies.
- Any office items (within reason) can be taken to support work from home as long as they are given a Kami sticker and marked in our work from home inventory.
- The office will remain accessible for staff to come and go. It’s not buildings that present a risk, it’s proximity to other people.
- Staff that has slow or unreliable internet at home can flag their case as soon as it is apparent. We will then either provide better temporary gear or get them a new internet connection.
Managing the remote working day
Starting a remote working plan for your whole office can be a bit intimidating, but with some structures and provisions for good communications, it can be very simple. At Kami, we now work with the following check-ins:
Weekly: All-hands meetup on Zoom
Daily: Specific team stand-ups on Zoom at 8:45 am each day. Each team member answers the same old three simple questions:
- What did you complete yesterday?
- What are you still working on?
- What, if anything, is blocking you from completing it?
Anyone is welcome to attend other teams’ stand-ups.
Regular office communication: Slack is our online office, meeting room and water cooler. Staff have it on their phones and other devices, with notifications, turned on. We also use Google Hangouts to facilitate direct messaging.
Our BCP, and our response to this specific situation, are both evolving in real-time. We hope these simple, pragmatic measures we have adopted will be a useful reference for other companies just starting to formulate their plans. Feel free to copy and share — and contact us if you have any feedback.