Coronavirus and work from home :-/

Communication and planning make a world of difference.

The office I work from is in Manhattan, NYC. Up until yesterday we were going into the office for work. About 5pm an email was sent to all staff that they should begin work from home the next day. Not much other guidance except — work from home.

My primary function is to connect to remote point-of-sale systems and poll their transactions if the routine automated polling from the night before isn’t successful. Depending on the day there are a few hand fulls of locations to poll. I’m not currently doing a lot of end user support because there’s another person who has that for their primary role.

The work from home email went out about an hour before we closed for the day. I installed the needed remote host on my work pc so I could get to my internal resources and informed our acting CIO (small shop but the IT department head is referred to as CIO) it had been done. My credential on LogMeIn enables me to download the host associated with our account but, once the host is installed, the CIO or another person needs to add it to the list of hosts before I can actually make a remote connection.

When I let the CIO know what I had done his reply was, “What email?”! He hadn’t even been informed before the work at home email was sent to everyone that it was going to happen. And this for a change that would cause a significant number of people to contact IT and ask how they would be able to continue working. I would have been astounded except that I have now seen too many instances of poor to no internal communication which lead to ad hoc responses to many needs and inconsistent implementation of solutions.

I was fortunate to be IT director for a number of years at a business that was very proactive about communication and planning. (The business, sadly, was shut down by the parent and I haven’t succeeded in finding a similar role since.) As director I oversaw and participated in creation of policy and procedure for nearly every significant business operation that IT was part of or could have an impact on. The idea that a course of action would be taken that could require significant response from IT, or any department, to support it without consulting those departments prior to making the announcement would be unthinkable. How else to ensure some degree of readiness?

Who could’ve foreseen coronavirus? Depending the sources you read, several organizations and people have been advocating for more resources to study potential risk and impact from zoonotic diseases for years. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend the following article / interview, The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming – Issue 83: Intelligence – Nautilus. Even though the specific virus couldn’t have been foreseen the effects of such an infectious disease and actions needed to counter have been foreseen.

After 9/11 many companies did make efforts to be prepared for disaster. Those efforts either never were taken or have been forgotten by my current employer.

I do very much yearn to be part of a forward thinking, proactive organization once again.