Chinenye Anuforo [email protected]
The world has been taken by storm by the new coronavirus, Covid-19. With nearly 7,000 causalities and almost 300,000 infected worldwide, governments and local authorities are taking drastic measures not seen during peace times.
In China, more than 250 million were put under lockdown at the peak of the epidemic. In Europe, more than 100 million people are currently in lockdown, with several million more expected to face the same in the coming days and weeks.
With normal life grinding to a halt, data centres have become one of the key pillars holding the world together as people are instructed to stay at home.
With that in mind, Data Economy has put together a shortlist of actions that every data centre operator needs to consider as we fight this pandemic.
Workforce location and travel
First and foremost, your staff are the most valuable asset to your business. Without your workforce, the business would not be what it is today, so their health and safety, as well as that of their relatives, should be your first priority.
Several countries have imposed travel bans with many more forcing quarantine on travellers upon arrival at their airports, seaports, and so on.
At this point in time, it seems to be globally accepted that only urgent travel shall take place. Each business has to decide what constitutes “urgent travel”, however, in a connected age like the one we live in, taking into account how fast the situation is changing, most business can be done without the need for travel. Your customers and partners will understand, and they themselves will have put such measures in place.
Remember, this is not a one company, one region, one country problem, but a global threat. Almost everyone around the world is, or soon will be, affected, directly or indirectly, by Covid-19. Whatever your business can do to help mitigate the risk to your workforce, their loved ones and everyone else they could come across on their trip, is a case of leadership, compassion and looking at the bigger picture.
If you operate in a region where a local outbreak has been confirmed by the authorities, you should consider allowing staff to work from home. You can introduce such a measure by firstly allowing those who do not feel comfortable to leave the house to stay at home. Once authorities suggest so, then everyone will follow suit.
It is also important to make sure that 1) you have provided your workforce with the right tools to work remotely (including access to any critical systems that in other situations might not have been accessible remotely – but without forgetting security!); 2) you and your IT team have trialled and confirmed that every member of staff can use the systems and collaboration tools.
The pandemic has had an effect on the world’s economy and the supply chain has been affected, especially during the outbreak in China. As the virus continues to spread at an alarming rate, it is key that data centres review their supply chain arrangements and plan for disruption. Expansion projects could also be affected in the long term.
However, with millions staying at home, millions are turning to the internet. Traffic spikes have been reported in several countries, especially in Italy, where massive lockdowns is taking place. From remote working to pleasure, the internet is in some way becoming the real world these days.
Data centres, as the powerhouses of cloud and connectors of the internet, are obviously going to feel this same effect.
Therefore, it is important that operators take all the necessary steps to prevent any downtime – even though measures should have already been in place from day one.
With many events being postponed or cancelled, getting people in the same room becomes harder to achieve, meaning social media can be your best friend more than ever.
Changing the narrative to a positive message in times like this can help not only grow your brand but also take people away from the constant, 24/7, news deluge on the Coronavirus. But it is important to keep the messages sensible and not ignore what is happening at the same time.
During periods of crisis, it is important to keep staff updated on a regular basis, especially with such a fast-moving pandemic as Covid-19.
At the moment, daily updates to staff are advisable, and businesses should establish one communication channel – a page on an intranet portal, an email chain, and so on – to make it easy for staff to access advice.
Also, ensure that 1) no one misses any update; 2) no one feels like they are missing an update.
Reassurance, but also reality, needs to be included in the messaging, especially for listed data centre businesses whose shareholders will be closely watching the global market decline.
Step up cleaning
Workplace hygiene should always be a priority, with or without an ongoing pandemic. However, and if your offices are operating, it is paramount that additional cleaning is carried out.
If you only used to clean once a day, perhaps it is time to go into a morning and evening routine. Getting an external company to conduct a deep clean is also another way of giving your employees reassurance that 1) they can trust the workplace; 2) you are doing your best to keep them and their loved ones as safe as possible.
Rubbish should also be taken care of more cautiously, mostly when tissues have been disposed of. Doubling rubbish bags is one way of helping to avoid any potential spread of the virus to those who remove them.