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How a Small Technology Company Copes with Covid-19 Challenges

by | Jul 7, 2020

Covid-19 has hit us all with a huge impact and unprecedented challenges.  It is hard to believe at Snowbound that we’re on week 17 of working from home while keeping our employees, our customers, and our partners safe. With more perspective on the situation, I wanted to reflect on the challenges, the solutions, and the outcomes our small company has faced in the Covid era.

First, I have to say that we’re very fortunate to be a software company where manufacturing, testing, production and shipping can all be done in the “cloud” with almost no one needing to access our physical assets.

Secondly, given our location in New England, we’ve regularly faced blizzards and even small snowstorms that have wreaked havoc with traffic.  Given our company’s name, and its origin in the snowiest winter in Boston history (at that time), we’ve always worked at being able to work remotely for at least a day or two.

Third, our company was started in the internet era.  Our website was one of the earliest.  Our reliance on email and web traffic from our beginnings made a huge difference in our abilities to be dispersed and still get the job done.  Getting and sending faxes electronically, however, was still a dream for us so some physical presence was required.

Fourth, we and our customers believe in leading with technology.  We have always been challenged to be current with our technologies and our capabilities to keep running, to be resilient in the event of failures (power, storage, even roof leaks), and our abilities to have multiple means of communications.  Included in those abilities are products like Webex, GotoMeeting, and our internal communication product, Slack.  Not only audio, but video communication was instantly available to offset our physical distancing.

Fifth, we are always improving our sophisticated tools and techniques.  The kinds of customers we serve (the largest banks and financial institutions, insurance companies, shipping companies, medical records giants and more) use leading-edge products to lead the rest, and they depend on vendors like Snowbound to reliably meet their needs.  So secure hosting centers, multiple means of data links, sophisticated backup methods, and tools to meet the security challenges of the 21st century are all part of what we’ve built up to serve that demand.

Sixth, we know our most important assets are our people.  Respecting their personal lives and their health is important to us.  We work hard at maintaining efficient and comfortable working spaces as well as encouraging socialization and cross departmental communication.  We also started a program with half-day Fridays to give our hard-working staff a few extra hours of personal time each week. Pre-Covid we began offering work from home one or two days a week to manage appointments more efficiently and save on some of the commutes our people face.

In the Covid era, both our departmental groups and executive management are developing and experimenting with online socials, town hall meetings, regular state of the company communications and any other means we can find to make sure we maintain the cohesiveness of everyone across the company.

So how have we fared with the challenges of Covid?

I have to say that we’ve done pretty well. Despite the world-wide ravages and devastating human impact of the disease, we’ve kept our people safe, unthreatened and productive.  From deciding that our preliminary Covid remote working test of two days was actually the beginning of our prolonged dispersed working challenge, we’ve been ahead of the game.  Most people were immediately able to work from home.  Those who couldn’t, came into the office to get their equipment and were up and running the same day.  Communication with our customers never lapsed.  Our ability to fix issues, support our customers,  work with our partners, and ship product continued without any hiccups.  All of our people, from Engineering to IT to QA and very importantly, our Support team, all worked hard to keep the wheels turning.  In fact, we had to caution our people not to overwork and possibly burnout.

Are we done?  In our kind of world, we’re never done.  Whether it’s new technology, new customer requests, or the challenges of Covid,  we always have work to do.  We don’t like the isolation but we do enjoy the work and the challenges we face in improving our company, our products and our service to our customers.

Let us know what you need.  We’re here for you.

Simon