The outbreak of COVID-19 and its global economic effects have reached South Africa. Only a few patients have been diagnosed so far, but it’s likely only a matter of time before we see significantly more cases.
While the impact of COVID-19 may be limited at the moment, we’ve decided to get ahead of the virus and take precautionary steps before they’re required. Our priority is to keep our team safe and ensure that OfferZen doesn’t contribute to the spread of the virus.
Here’s what we’ve put in place so far.
How we’re mitigating the risk of the team getting or spreading the virus
We’ve implemented the following measures, effective as of Monday, 9 March 2020:
Avoiding physical contact
We’re usually a very close-knit team but for the time being, there won’t be any more hugs, handshakes or high-fives - just big smiles and foot-fives.
Pro-tip: if you’re asking your company to stop doing things like handshakes, don’t shake someone’s hand immediately after telling them.
Avoiding catching and spreading symptoms
There’s a new rule: If we are coughing or sneezing, we work from home. No exceptions. We are also organising optional flu shots for everyone. While flu shots obviously won’t help with Corona, they can help with flu so that we will have less coughing and sneezing in general.
In addition, we are encouraging our team to really focus on their general wellbeing by eating well, getting good sleep and exercising.
Keeping hands clean
Another new rule is that everybody in the office has to wash their hands at least 3 times a day with soap for 20 seconds, but especially before and after using our common areas, such as the lunch room and “CoffeeZen”, our socialising area.
We are getting antiseptic hand sanitiser and paper towels and are putting posters and reminders in place to make it easier to remember to do that.
Keeping common areas clean and less germy
Our office assistant Vuyi is now washing common surface areas a minimum of twice daily with disinfectant. We’ve also bought some nifty rubber tongs to stop people putting their hands in the cookie jars.
Travel and attending events
At the time of writing, we’re not restricting local travel, but are approaching international trips with extreme caution.
Our team is also still attending events. We have however paused planning on the upcoming events we organize and sponsor beyond March while we assess the impact the virus will have on the event space. As a company that invests heavily in tech community events, this is a big deal for us.
Regular meetings and communication
This Monday, we held an all hands meeting to discuss how we’re thinking about the virus and ran through the following:
- What we know
- What we think will happen
- How we as a company are responding
Due to the fast moving nature of the virus, we’re also meeting regularly to discuss any changes in any of these three categories, and are communicating that to the team by updating a slide deck and posting updates in Slack:
An example of an update:
As a team, we’ve already been working remotely on Thursdays for about a year now. That said, should a member of the team get infected, we will likely have to go full-time remote overnight.
That’s why we are planning an unexpected remote day where no one can get into the office.
Update: From 17th March 2020, our entire team will be working remotely until further notice in order to reduce chances of catching and spreading the virus.
We’ll be sharing more about our approach and thinking around COVID-19 in the upcoming days and weeks. Please let us know how you are going about things at your workplace and give us a shout if you have any comments or suggestions!