We are taking this opportunity to share the personal experiences of some of our team members on the Covid 19 pandemic, outlining how their lives have changed and what they have done to support our clients and partners.
Luis De Souza
This crisis started to erupt while I was on a family vacation in Mexico in February. I had no idea it was the start of a nightmare global pandemic and like many others I was not well prepared. By March I realised that this not would blow over and needed to make some tough decisions.
We took the decision early on to prepare for an office shutdown and home working and as we had already moved to the cloud for all our business-critical solutions such as telephony, helpdesk, CRM and finance, we were well prepared. What we did not foresee was the tight lockdown, which closed the businesses of many NFS clients in the hospitality and meeting venue areas. This meant revenue was down in these business areas by up to 90%, a real financial hit.
I urgently consulted with the leadership team to figure out how to reduce costs while keeping the NFS business open to serve our clients. I had three priorities; to retain our highly-skilled and valued staff, to support those in the greatest need and to plan for reduced working hours that was both open and fair.
I’m glad we acted fast and engaged positively with the team, confronting all difficult questions. We are in a good place now and while the road ahead is still hard, we will come out of this pandemic even more engaged—we have retained all our staff globally!
So what have I learnt? Frankly, so much in a short time; act fast, communicate well, take the team with you and reach out to clients and partners. I want to thank our clients, staff and suppliers for their understanding and trust that we would make it through this, battered a little, but full of hope for our collective future.
2020 started off with a bang! I had the opportunity to take a variety of trips around the US to meet and support our clients and potential opportunities in New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; and even Los Angeles, CA. When I was wrapping up my Los Angeles trip in end of February, the severity of COVID-19 started to sink in.
By mid-March the NFS US team was 100% working from home. We were able to leverage all our online/cloud systems to make a swift move. One member of the team was stuck on a cruise and although I was preparing for a big family vacation with my husband and two young daughters aboard a Disney Cruise, that was cancelled and we found ourselves all safe at home together.
During the past six weeks we have all adjusted to isolation and social distancing. With a client base spread across North America, the daily use of collaboration tools like MS Teams, Skype and Zoom, had already been in use by the NFS team prior to the virus to connect and present. We are happy to say that although this is not the Spring we had planned for, we are indeed safe at home and doing our best to support our families, friends, existing and future clients.
Major Accounts Manager (International)
The name COVID19 was conferred upon this disease while I was in Amsterdam for what was meant to be the biggest date in my calendar. ISE kicked off on 11 Feb for the last time at the RAI. I was looking forward to meeting all my AV partners, ex-colleagues, clients and prospects. As luck would have it, I had a sore throat on day one of the four-day event, and took care not to pass it on to anyone.
During the lockdown I have had the opportunity to catch up with contacts that I met and missed during ISE. On the back of our strategic partnership with TIG, I have been speaking to system integrators in new territories which is really exciting in terms of new Partner relationships. I thrive on engagement and the current situation allows people to evaluate their current partnerships, explore new ones and make a plan for what their product range is going to look like when we return to some form of normalcy. I feel I have helped our product and organisation to regroup and focus and we should be able to catch up if not reverse the effects over the next year or so.
Technical Operations Lead
On a cruise in the South Bahamas in March, we were set to dock port in Puerto Rico on the 15th. That morning we noticed the odd behavior of the boat; we were going in circles a few miles off the coast. Then, without notice, we changed direction north and picked up speed. A couple of hours later, the captain informed all passengers that the port in Puerto Rico was closed due to a few case on the island. We were diverted to Port Canaveral, an extra day and a half on board.
Tuesday 17th, we arrived at Port Canaveral. Leaving the boat, we walked to customs expecting long lines, congested areas and frustrated passengers; what we got was an unchecked walk through of the customs area and directly on to buses to the airport. I was able to book a flight while on the bus to Orlando airport.
My takeaway from this experience so far is that we cannot rely solely on our governments to navigate us through national emergencies. We need to come together as communities, teams, coworkers, and family to do what is best for all. New standards will arise to meet current needs of business and we should be at the forefront with the leaders of industry to provide our services. In doing so, we will solidify our importance to existing clients as well as become a top priority for new clients. Stay safe and forge ahead.