*Update* – 23rd March 2020 – As of today and the government guidance having changed, contrary to the below we are now, of course, banning all external face to face meetings and work related travel. The rest remains in force.
Just After Midnight was started with one central idea, to keep our clients most valuable digital assets “always on” whilst they switch off. Or more to the point, when they’re not switched off, they can focus on what is most important to them without distraction.
In following and responding to recent events you probably won’t be surprised to hear that we’ve put into action our business continuity plan in response to COVID-19. We are committed to maintaining full continuity of our service to our clients as well as protecting, supporting and doing right by our team in the best way we can throughout this pandemic.
Given the ‘always-on’ nature of our business model we have had robust continuity planning in place for some time. We started the business four years ago as a distributed team and have only transitioned into physical offices over the last 24 months, so in some respects at least, we are well prepared to adapt for this type of situation.
What follows is outlined both for some reassurance to those that are seeking it and perhaps for those yet to embrace some of what is quite routine for us, we hope this will serve as useful and practical insight.
There is no special sauce here, we’ve built our plan around what we believe are sensible foundations and pragmatic steps taken based on experience, peer review and practical business continuity plan testing.
We also love to chat with other business and team leaders to share our experiences and learn from them, so feel free to drop us a line and hopefully we can all support each other in this difficult period.
Working from home
The nature of our global team means we may have slightly different policies in place depending on government guidance in that location/country at the current time.
In our UK, Singapore and Australian offices, as of Monday 16th March, we have fully moved our team to a work from home model, the office remains available to those that wish to use it but people are encouraged to work from home where possible, as we feel social distancing is the most appropriate and responsible thing to do for our team members, their families and friends.
This will be reviewed at least each Friday.
Being a cloud support business, our entire business has run in the cloud since we started, and all of our team already use all of the tools and platforms needed for us to continue operating as normal on a day-to-day basis.
We will be cycling through nine remote stand-ups every 24 hours in our virtual office workspace during weekdays to keep good cadence, keep teams in sync, obstacles tackled, spirits up and to deal with any resourcing changes that may be required.
During business hours our team can hang out in the open spaces in our virtual office workspace with always on audio (mic off by default so no mic in the bathroom misdemeanors!) to keep that sense of physical presence and remain amongst fellow team members during the day.
All team members are provided a company laptop when they join us, and so the team can continue to work as normal remotely with secure company equipment, configured in-line with our ISO 27001 certified business systems.
Meetings with clients
We believe we have to approach this thing with a measure of practicality, so we are not blanket banning external face to face meetings. We are however actively encouraging all parties to use online video conferencing first and only meet face to face if essential. If all parties are comfortable then we will, in some cases, continue with these whilst ensuring heightened contact (spare the handshakes, hugs and air kisses for the moment!) and hygiene awareness (hand wash and sanitisation) in these circumstances.
Having said all of that, the majority of meetings for our ongoing projects tend to be online anyway and we use Zoom extensively externally as well as our virtual office software for internal meetings and collaboration. Video (rather than just audio) is the preferred route so that we can still see some faces during this period, we will ask our teams to tidy their home office spaces (spare bedrooms, study nooks etc!) and ask everyone to appreciate that not everybody has a home office.
Work related travel
As above whilst no blanket ban, we will be only be making essential international travel, none is currently planned. We will not be attending any events as a sponsor or attendee until later this year. Much of our face to face marketing and client service activities will inevitably take a shift to smarter ways of engaging without contact, for now.
Potential impact to support
Being a support focused business we have a number of procedures in place to ensure we maintain services 24×7. Our global distributed teams, our breadth in each discipline and redundancy in each discipline, as well as cloud based working practices will ensure continued uptime across our support services.
Outside of “always on” support and maintaining cloud uptime, we also undertake project work in the cloud consulting and DevOps engineering space. Again with our global distributed team and the redundancy we carry across disciplines, we are in a position to mitigate some impact if multiple members of our team or client stakeholders become sick with Coronavirus and extensive require time off work. However this is not a panacea, there will be an impact and it will depend on how hard this pandemic hits each of our markets. Like all businesses and teams, our resources are finite, our people’s health comes first and potential project risks and impacts must be planned for and communicated.
We will actively be working with clients to ask them to communicate the same to us in terms of any continuity issues that could impact projects from their end.
Mental Wellbeing and Finance
A weird couple of things to put together perhaps but this is important for many reasons. Sadly the viral nature of this pandemic is not only health related. There is considerable fear at the moment, in homes, in workplaces and in markets. We are encouraging our people to stay calm, go with the facts and listen to advice. This has the potential to be a traumatic period for some but for many of course we expect the illness will be mild and the world will keep turning.
The fear we have seen has caused markets around the world to crash and this will likely have an impact on business confidence and directly impact all businesses.
As a business, Just After Midnight is in a stable financial position because we have worked hard to create a highly sustainable financial and commercial model from the beginning. We benefit from entering this period with a strong balance sheet and cash position, zero debt and an experienced management team that have grown and navigated previous digital businesses through events like those of 2008.
Undoubtedly the next few months will determine for many businesses including ours whether we are able to defy market conditions to continue growth, navigate the course unscathed or have to adapt more painfully.
We believe in the underlying strength of the technology sector even in the face of this adversity. Indeed, in some ways this pandemic only serves to confirm the need for always on technology and cost optimisation for all kinds of enterprises to serve their customers, staff and stakeholders digitally.
We share some commitments that we’ve observed a number of our partners making in recent days. We encourage our customers and suppliers to consider the same:
- We commit to continuing to provide accurate, factual, information.
- We commit to continuing to pay suppliers on time and adhere to contractual agreements.
- We commit to continuing to pay our team members on time.
- We commit to being the best partner you’ve ever had.