To our Team Applied Family,
First and foremost, I hope that you, your family, friends, and communities are staying safe and healthy. For those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak – whether directly or indirectly – my prayers are with you and I wish those affected a speedy recovery.
As we enter our 10th week of remote operations, it is impossible not to reflect on how the COVID-19 outbreak has fundamentally changed the global economy and the way we work at a stunning pace. Seemingly overnight, the pandemic shifted office-based teams to remote workforces, testing the resilience of our work tools, critical infrastructure and capabilities to interact with and support each other and our customers. And through all the uncertainty created by this extraordinary disruption, there have been inspiring moments of individual and collective strength and perseverance that have resulted in a successful – even if unplanned – test in remote working.
Where we are today
I am incredibly proud of the fortitude Team Applied has shown in supporting one another and staying devotedly committed to our customers' success during this time. As the outbreak intensified, we recognized that you would need to manage your business operations differently and quickly activated several initiatives to help you navigate the new, remote reality. These programs provide easy access to the technology needed to support remote operations via the cloud and ensure your customers have access to your business anytime, anywhere via online portals and mobile apps.
We also know that managing through this crisis and the abundance of information available can be overwhelming. A couple of months ago, we pulled together a COVID-19 Resource Hub – with content covering business continuity guides, technology tools and business management tips – to provide a central source of information to help you navigate the growing business and employee experience implications. We have kept that a living and breathing resource for our customers, adding new content as the situation has evolved. Our COVID-19 Education and Training hub also provides customers a single access point to find:
- Tips on using technology to better manage business remotely and stay connected with customers
- Best practices to optimize workflows to maximize employee productivity
- Other educational resources to keep staff engaged and using systems effectively
Know that, whether it be late-night check-ins or after hours spent moving customers quickly to the cloud, our team remains laser-focused on making sure each of your businesses are able to keep your office lights on – no matter where you are.
Keeping the health and safety of Team Applied front and center as we move forward
As governments around the globe look to reopen their economies safely, Applied is evaluating how, when and at what pace we turn the lights back on in our physical offices. As the situation plays out and public health guidance continues to evolve, the reality is that this will not be a straightforward process where we immediately return to normal. And while the desire to return to a sense of normalcy is high, we are committed to taking a very conservative approach to how we reopen our offices and reactivate our field staff in phases over a prolonged period. The health and safety of Team Applied have been, and will continue to be, our #1 priority. As such, we have extended our remote operations until September 8 and will continue to keep pace with the situation as it evolves to modify this plan as needed.
Planning for the next chapter
I wanted to share how we are approaching the next chapter in our business continuity plan as we, like each of you, navigate the daily changes brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we develop our formal framework for reopening our offices, gradually and safely, we have outlined guiding principles and determining criteria from government entities and public health officials that we will use to reopen our offices and recommence engagements with our customers and other third parties in a phased approach.
These guiding principles will be our North Star as we move forward into our next chapter:
- Protect our greatest asset: What makes Team Applied great is our people, including our customers, and each of you remain our #1 priority. Our approach will remain conservative, maintaining remote working capabilities across most of the company for at least several months. We will not require anyone who is effectively managing their responsibilities remotely back into an office or out on the road while COVID-19 containment and treatment options remain a significant concern.
- Focus on the facts: Information emerging about the virus and ways to mitigate risk from it – including scientific knowledge, public health data, government policies and compliance with federal, state, provincial and local law – will act as our guideposts as we define our phases and timeline for rollout.
- Create clarity and maintain transparency: Plans and responsibilities for our employees, customers and the broader company will be clear and well-communicated. Feedback loops will be kept open and ongoing to ensure leadership has the pulse of the organization and our customers, and we will pivot any plans as needed.
As we look at reopening our offices, Applied will build its plan based on the following gating factors:
- Public health and governmental guidelines: Legal compliance and alignment with public health recommendations will be our primary guides. Offices will remain closed and travel limited without documented clearance from federal, state, provincial, and local governments – and concurrence from public health entities.
- Facility readiness: Operations will establish routine cleaning processes and appropriate office configuration to support a healthy and safe workplace, to include a maximum safe number of employees who can occupy a given facility at the same time.
- Leading at the local level: Our local leadership across all of our offices will play an active role in determining approval of the individual office’s reopening plan in alignment with the global plan.
- A phased approach: We will take a multi-phased approach to reopening the offices across several months. The first phase will include employees who have opted-in to an earlier return based on a valid, business-focused need, and will help shape our go-forward processes Subsequent phases will be determined based on local circumstances, business need, and evolving employee sentiment.
The longevity and fluidity of this outbreak remain unknown, and while there are many uncontrollable elements, we are working to provide guidance to our staff and customers on the things we can control. When finalizing the plan, we know that we need to be able to answer the following two critical questions:
- What do we need to do to be ready for reopening our offices and deploying field staff?
- What do we need to do to be ready should we have to re-exit our offices and ground our field staff?
With these questions in mind, the core areas that we are currently working through include:
- Travel: Determine our risk tolerance for travel in 2020 that keeps safety and health priority #1, while ensuring we can meet the needs of your business. Currently, we have suspended all travel for the months of May and June and continue to monitor the situation for future travel in July and beyond.
- Facilities: Establish the logistical and maintenance requirements to have an office that is configured to meet current government, public health, and legal guidelines.
- Employee readiness: Identify Applied policies that need to be introduced or modified on a temporary and/or permanent basis to return to work.
- Communications: Maintain a clear communications strategy that details the office reopening plan, guiding principles and determining criteria to ensure staff, customers, and partners understand the phases of our business continuity plan.
A closing thought
On a personal level, this has been a surreal experience. Having weathered the 2008 – 2011 Global Financial Crisis as a business leader at newly IPO’d Rackspace, I feel well-prepared to navigate economic uncertainty and to lead through it. But, like all of you, this is the first time I have faced such a sharp and swift cessation of most economic and social activity on such a massive scale. As a leader, a husband and a father with 20, 18 and 15-year-old children under our roof – and all of us trying to do school, work and life together in close quarters - I confess to praying hard and often for schools to re-open. I’ve always had an appreciation for our teachers since my wife and mother-in-law were once educators, but now I simply adore them and can’t wait for them to take my children off our hands for 8 hours a day! There, I said it. Does that make me a bad father? Kidding aside, we are all social people by nature, and the isolation has come with its highs and lows. As a silver lining, I expect to look back on this and be grateful for the unexpected family time and memories we have made together – and I hope you and your families get to do the same.
And as I look ahead, while I know there are many unknowns, what I do know is that this industry and all of Team Applied will emerge stronger from this crisis and better together for it.
This industry has a noble mission and it has never been truer than today. I thank each of you for what you do to safeguard and protect people’s lives and possessions, especially now when it matters the most.
This too shall pass, and I look forward to the day we can see each other in person once again. In the meantime, we are here for you and thank you for your continued partnership.