Sngular and COVID-19

16 March 2020

Sngular and COVID-19

by José Luis Vallejo

As you probably already know, we are facing an extremely serious situation. During this difficult time, every company and all of their employees must assume their share of responsibility. At Sngular, we will be doing our utmost best on several fronts.

Our top priority is the health of our teams, their families and everyone they come in contact with. In February, we already began to apply measures aligned with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health authorities, and we are staying up-to-date for further recommendations. Specifically:

  1. We’ve begun applying quarantine periods for anyone who has been in countries that are considered centers for outbreaks, like Italy for example.
  2. We’ve created a coordination group which will include the heads of the People department and the work and operations centers to share measures and keep us up-to-date on the situation in all of the territories where we are present (USA, Mexico, Chile, Spain and Singapore).
  3. We will send out frequent communications on our various digital channels such as our corporate email but also Telegram, Slack and even WhatsApp groups so that everyone is well-informed about corporate policies and protocols.
  4. We are in permanent contact with our clients to closely follow the situation and adapt to their corporate policies. The objective is for our clients to consider us as facilitators of those policies.

Secondly, we have the responsibility to organize all of our activities to ensure that we maintain our commitments to our clients. Perhaps, as a digital and technological company that already applies workplace practices that encourage independence, we are better prepared to face the challenge of isolation than other companies whose work is more reliant on in-person activities. We promise to continue advancing our projects and initiatives so that our clients won’t feel discontinuity. For that we are:

  1. Since the beginning of March, we’ve been enabling all of our teams to stop working from our clients’ offices, following the recommendations of health authorities. Since we apply methodologies of agile development, our colleagues can continue their work. They can still move forward with projects and communicate with the clients. To achieve this, we’re using all kinds of tools, from JIRA to follow the tasks in each Sprint to the collaborative platforms of Google, Microsoft Teams, Telegram and Slack to facilitate communication.
  2. In this sense, it’s quite simple for us to work remotely if all the code is uploaded/deployed in places like Git/Jenkins for our Continuous Delivery / Continuous Integration practices.
  3. In the cases where physical access to infrastructure or our clients is necessary, Sngular’s DevOps team is creating (if they weren’t already prepared) the VPNs that will allow for secure access from our nodes in the office and even to our clients’ networks.
  4. To avoid any kinds of security problems, Sngular’s experts in cybersecurity are working shoulder to shoulder with our clients to guarantee that access is available as soon as possible and in full compliance with their security policies.
  5. We’ve been scaling up remote work since February 24, and today we can say that 72% of our colleagues that were previously working from our clients’ offices are now able to do so from home. Currently, more than 29 projects that Sngular carried out from its offices in Spain are now being done remotely. We hope that with the help of our clients and our team, all of these projects will be done remotely within the next week.

Thirdly, maintaining the continuity of our internal activities like sales, contracts, operations, and project optimization has forced us to adapt to this new era of empty offices. For example, in the People and Talent departments:

  1. If our candidates are able, all of the processes of hiring and recruitment are being done virtually.
    All of the follow-up meetings are also being conducted online.
  2. We have canceled the Friday in-person meetings, which is where people would meet new team members and get up-to-date about our activities. This will now be done online until the situation returns to normal. Instead of at the meetings, this information will be shared in a newsletter.
  3. We have encouraged teleworking for everyone who makes up the technical and administrative areas of Sngular. We’ve gradually limited physical attendance to our offices. We’ve done so in a way in which we haven’t forced people to work from home (some people don’t have the proper conditions to do so) but we’ve made it very easy for anyone who wants to. Currently, more than 92% of the people who work in Sngular’s offices are teleworking.
  4. We’ve modified the onboarding model for our new colleagues. It is now being done remotely. We understand that it’s probably not the best way to join a new team, but the situation is what it is. At the end of the day, a health emergency can’t stop us from hiring new Sngulars.
  5. We’ve postponed all of our in-person training activities, but at the same time, we’ve amplified our presence on online platforms. Sngular currently has a corporate training portal on the platform Udemy, where our technical specialists are adding content from a range of subjects like safety, component-based software, microservices and more.

In fourth place, as part of our commitment to create and foster a wider community, we’ve taken various steps. The intense activities in our Hubs were paralyzed even before the health authorities’ recommendations. Regarding the community:

  1. We have postponed all the events that we’ve organized in our Hubs. Currently, we have active cycles of conferences about design, OKR management, technological marketing and more. Both the sponsors and the people that were going to attend understand the situation and believe the move to be coherent. Postponing events will mean that we have to change the calendar and find spaces to fit in these activities.
  2. Our Hubs are also open environments where groups of people outside of Sngular hold meetings. We’ve been in touch with those groups ever since we started to cancel our social activities to keep them up-to-date on our policies and offer them alternatives to hold the meetings at a later date. Here, we also appreciate the understanding of everyone involved; they are also well aware of the gravity of this situation.
  3. We’ve also been in touch with the organizers of the events that Sngular was sponsoring to stay up-to-date on whether or not they were canceling or postponing the events. This has been the case for conferences like t3chfest in Madrid, which is organized by our colleagues Nerea and Moisés, Innov8rs in Barcelona or Startup Weekend in Cordoba.
  4. We’ve begun to prepare virtual conferences. During this time, we’ve going to start exploring this type of communication and community-building. It’s important that during these days we remain active and don’t lose our ability to share knowledge. With this in mind, we have set up a Mashme.tv production center in our Madrid Hub. Next week, we’re launching our first remote meetup about OKR management.

Honestly, we believe that these measures can be and should be applied in any kind of company. It’s simply the responsible thing to do.

As always, I’m so proud of how everyone here has reacted to all of the changes, recommendations and re-prioritizations that have been proposed over the last few days. For me, this isn’t surprising at all.

But what did surprise me was that today, the Sngular team came up with a fifth line of work. Today, our internal conversations weren’t all about how many people were left in the office, what clients allow remote work or if the lines of credit were ready for a negative situation. No, today, there were tons of new ideas, initiatives, and references to studies, products or technology that could serve in times like these.

We are lucky to be working in a sector where we can easily adapt to change. But it’s also a responsibility. With our technology and your skills, we can make an impact on many other sectors and improve the lives of many people. That’s why our colleagues from the design, development and artificial intelligence have gotten to work to see how we can use some of the aspects that we have here at Sngular to offer a simple and quick solution that will help people stay up-to-date on the coronavirus situation (via official sources). This tool would allow help reduce the collapse of emergency service numbers like 911 (112 in Spain) and little by little, if official apps or solutions for this don’t arise, we can complement this initiative with other functionalities and complementary services. If this initiative does see the light of day (if the governments don’t get to it first), we will gradually hand these tools over to whatever health institution or public organization could benefit from them. We’ve already been speaking to people in Spain’s healthcare sector.

So, that’s what my team at Sngular is proposing to help achieve better use of health resources like emergency numbers, help keep people well-informed and perhaps play a part in the great task of “flattening the curve.” I want to thank everyone involved in launching this initiative. If you have any questions, proposals or can offer help in regards to this last point, you can get in touch with Carlos Guardiola. He is usually our Chief Innovation Officer, but for now, he’s turned into our Coronavirus Officer. I’d also like to thank him for his help in helping prepare this note.

I truly wish you all very the best.

Warm regards,

JL Vallejo – President Sngular

#Covid19 #ImStayingHome #Heretohelp #Togetherbutnotclose #SngularRocks

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