Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Updated 2020-04-01

🇬🇧 Society is now in “Stay at home” mode

AVOID LEAVING YOUR HOME. Unless shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise a day, medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, or travelling to and from work where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

In the U.K., you should follow the Official Government Advice. This information changes frequently. Other jurisdictions will have different policies and laws.

This is an issue we must ALL take responsibility for, good hygiene and diligently adhering to good anti-infection and anti-transmission practice can dramatically slow the spread of the virus, reducing its peak load on health services. This will save lives. STAY AT HOME.

What about us?

We operate a tried-and-tested (it’s over 20 years since we adapted to remote working) location independent business model, the team operates out of micro-offices and individual homes across the UK, Spain, and Canada. Using a distributed-location model allows us to mitigate internal spread of infection entirely. None of us is in what are deemed high-risk groups, nor is anyone reporting any symptoms and no one has had a test. We are all working from home for the foreseeable future.

Over the last month, we have further reduced risks:

  • Our Summer company event has been cancelled.
  • The team will communicate only using digital and telephony and work 100% from home.
  • All face-to-face meetings are cancelled. We will use Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and Slack to communicate.
  • International business travel is banned until at least Q3.
  • Planned attendance at conferences and other group-like activity is on hold at least until Q3.
  • Social distancing policies include avoiding: the tube, peak-hour travel, and trains
  • Screens on computers, tablets, and phones should be cleaned as per Apple’s updated methods that now permits a use of a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe. You may wish to extend this cleaning routine to other frequently handled devices including remotes, chargers, headphones, keyboards, etc.
  • Use of NSAI to treat fevers in adults is discouraged. This includes Ibuprofen and Aspirin.
  • The initial “viral load” absorbed is possibly linked to the severity of the infection. Particular care should be taken with regard to proximity to “coughers” and “sneezers”.
  • For those not showing symptoms, household isolation linked with occasional, managed, contact with restricted non-vulnerable groups is accepted as a good balance between mental health and risk of infection.

As we reach the start of April, we are getting closer to the peak of infection rate – which is expected in the next few weeks. Sadly, the peak death rate lags infection by three weeks so we’re expecting many more dead. No one at Connected are knowingly infected, nor immune, either.

We have started to see a slowing down in the business, and we are expecting to make an operating loss in Q2. This won’t be sizeable, and we expect to see our FY19/20 (Aug to Jul) to close showing a strong profit and a greater balance sheet than FY18/19. Contract business remains relatively unaffected, where we’re seeing a slow-down is in new projects.

We are not taking the government VAT-deferment, but we will be deferring July tax payments-on-account until January 2021. Connected are financially very strong which, combined with a scaleable cost base, and no-frills approach to running a business means we can easily weather this crisis, even if it extends well into 2021.

Looking forwards

Back in late February, when Coronavirus was just appearing in the West, we wrote a short piece on the positive outcomes that a mild pandemic could bring. We set aside the predicted hysterical media over-reaction to this new strain virus, looked past the scaremongering to see what positives there were. What good could come out of the Coronavirus event.

Rapid change, we find, is something to embrace and something to feel positive about. The death toll is unacceptably high, and will go much higher when it reaches the parts of the globe that cannot self-isolate or afford medical cate. But, back in late February it was mostly a far-east thing with some localised spread to Northern Italy.

This was our take. Our view of the silver lining that only a tragedy this enormous could bring about.

  1. Stock market correction is one. If you’d asked back in the start of January, most market / broker / finance types would have said that 2020 was going to be positive but not exceptional. Then take a look at the FTSE100, in early Jan it was at 7,600 before falling 13% in a week, mostly on the back of that old favourite “economic uncertainty”. In reality, we’ll see equities prices bounce back but maybe to a slightly lower level as many stocks were over-priced due to investment complacency and a poor return on gilts and bonds. Probably. In late March it’s languishing down about 30%.
  2. We might all become a good deal more hygienic. Despite the newness around COVID-19, it is still a viral outbreak not unlike Type A Flu – which kills around half a million people every year. What is different this time is the mass public panic surrounding the virus and fear of infection. Lots more hand-washing and social distancing will likely make the world a less viral and germy place to be.
  3. It’s quite likely that you’ll catch the virus, but it will likely not hit you any harder than the common cold, much less distressing than Flu. But, the widespread panic is encouraging folks to adopt behaviour that will reduce transmission rates – hand-washing, social distancing, and self-quarantining. Not only will this slow the spread COVID-19, but other human-human diseases including the common cold. Once caught, you are expected to be immune.
  4. Less consumption. We’re seeing quite a drop in retail trade across the world, and as South-East Asia as the world’s factory suffered localised quarantine they are simply producing less. Throw in the publics increasing fear of crowds, we expect to see lower spending, fewer or no holidays, and a “batten down the hatches” mentality. Less consumption is better in almost every way accept economic.
  5. Decreased CO2 and pollution footprint. We’re all charging towards a climate meltdown so putting the world on pause for bit is not a bad thing. Reducing travel, consumption, and activity will see a marked drop in CO2 output, which is a good thing. This is already making itself felt.
  6. Improved personal finances, for some. As long as the business you work in is not seriously affected by the knock-on effects of the virus, then the generally expected lower activity and spend levels should manifest itself in a healthier bank balance and a more cautious approach to “rainy day” planning

Of course, all of this adds up to nothing if you die from the virus, or someone close to you does. I’m often accused of being pathologically optimistic, but I don’t think this is the case this time. So, unless COVID-19 mutates into something out of a horror film we should all just keep calm and carry on.

Keeping up to date

We will update this document from time to time as and when the circumstances change.

This is version 9 of the document.