We’re predominantly based in Brighton, one of the first places in the UK to see a COVID-19 case, so we’ve been ready to kick in our company plan for a while. Thankfully, with a team that is partially distributed across Europe, we are already set up to switch to fully remote working should the need arise. As areas of the world step up measures to quarantine and lock down access, and the UK Government roll out further guidance, we wanted to share our current plans.
There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there, so we’ve been tracking a relatively small selection of, what we believe to be, reliable sources. We’ve been following
- The UK Government’s information for the public, which is updated regularly and covers risk level, advice, government action amongst other information.
- The ACAS guidance for employers, which helps inform our people policy.
- And finally, we couldn’t avoid a bit of geekery: the awesome data visualisation by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University allows users to view cases and relevant data globally:
Source: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
Staff working remotely
We have been encouraging office based team members to be ready to remote work by taking laptops home and trialling periods of remote work if they are not familiar with it. All of our systems are accessible via cloud infrastructure. Our ISO 27001 work has included our Information Manager rolling out various projects and treatments to allow secure information transfer with no negative impact if we are all remote.
Alongside this, we are ready to offer staff extra support should we go fully remote, with more regular video check-ins and line manager meets, and specific equipment should home offices need it. We are also aware that schools may shut, and serene home work environments could turn chaotic, so are encouraging the team to take advantage of the flexible work policy: work when it works for you.
For a big part of the team, heading into the office is part of what makes working at Pragmatic great. So we are going to hold-out for as long as is sensible. There is absolutely no obligation for the team to be in the office, and we’ll respect each individual’s choice.
While we’re here, we’re putting in extra measures like:
- Adding cleaning visits to our usual schedule
- Adding extra hand wash and sanitisers
- Removing finger food and snacks
- Enforcing zero tolerance on sickness in-person attendance – we know some people want to soldier-on, but now is definitely not the time.
With events like WordCamp Asia, SXSW and other industry conferences (sensibly but sadly) cancelling, we’re following public health guidance on event attendance. If the risk level increases, we won’t attend. We are also giving the team the option, and consulting around different events.
We host a number of events at the Pragmatic offices, and while the public health advice is to continue as planned, we won’t cancel as the events have a local attendee list. However, we will encourage best practice and that does mean no pizza sharing!
We are reducing work travel and are holding out on booking big events such as WordCamp Europe until further guidance from the FCO and WHO. We are encouraging people to self-isolate if they are taking personal holidays, and ensuring they have plans to mitigate should they not be able to travel back for any reason.
Sickness pay and flexible staffing
The team will be entitled to full sick pay, as usual, should they contract COVID-19. We have resourcing plans that include flexible contractor usage to ensure business as usual.
So, while we’re concerned and taking the Corona virus outbreak very seriously, we’re also not in panic mode and taking sensible, appropriate precautions that should reduce the risk to the team, our clients and the business as a whole.