Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Updated 2020-10-20, first published 2020-03-05.

WE ARE OPEN. WE NEVER CLOSED.

UPDATED ADVICE: Over seven months after we published our first update, we are now well into the second peak of infection. Thankfully, the number of new deaths remain low but that is not a reason to relax. The new Tier-based system is going to affect us all, with lots of areas under additional and potential rolling restrictions for six months or more.

Obstensively, we are mostly back to a slightly more palatable version of where we were in March and April and with little chance of this changing until we acquire some sort of herd immunity and with winter coming we are in for the long-game.

Strict social-distancing remains in place and the wearing of masks is recommended in all indoor and crowded public spaces. The government is saying “Those who cannot work at home should return to work”, although we are recommending the more sensible “those who CAN work from home should continue to do so on a continuing basis and avoid the office unless absolutely necessary”.

You should read the Official Government Advice. This information changes frequently. Other jurisdictions will have different policies and laws, specifically now in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

We must ALL continue to take responsibility for good hygiene and diligently adhering to anti-infection and anti-transmission practices.

WHAT ABOUT US?

We operate a tried-and-tested location independent business model (it’s over 20 years since we adopted remote working), the team operates out of micro-offices and individual homes across the UK and North America. Using a distributed-location model allows us to mitigate the internal spread of infection dramatically. None of us is in what are deemed high-risk categories, nor is anyone reporting any symptoms and no one has had a positive test. We are all working 100% from home for the foreseeable future, probably forever.

Since we started actively monitoring the spread of the virus in February, we have taken a number of measures to further reduce to spread of the virus:

  • Our Summer and Winter Corporate Get-Together are cancelled.
  • The team communicate using digital and telephony and work 100% from home. The office will remain closed until at least Summer 2021. It may never re-open.
  • No unnecessary face-to-face meetings. We use Zoom, Skype, Teams, Meet, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Slack to communicate.
  • All international business travel is on hold, as is attendance at conferences and other group-like activity.
  • Social distancing policies introduced in public places the first week of March include minimum 2m gaps and avoiding crowded places: the tube, peak-hour travel, and trains. From May the 1st the advice was updated to recommend the wearing of masks in indoor and crowded spaces.
  • 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.
  • Drugs: Use of NSAI to treat fevers in adults is discouraged. This includes Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Additional Vitamin D3 is recommended, especially in folks with darker skin which produces vitamin D at a slower rate..
  • 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. Social distancing must be in place at all times.
  • Adopt a pragmatic approach of being aware of our surroundings and being prepared to take protective measures such as the wearing of masks.
  • Access to both Antigen and Antibody tests have been secured and a regime of “possible exposure-antigen, test-antibody test” is encouraged where high-risk activity is unavoidable.

A CHANGING WORLD

The world has changed during 2020, accelerating some of the underlying social and working trends, as well as changing how we consume and where we take our leisure. We expect most folks who can work at home to continue to do so, long after the crisis is over. This will have dramatic effects on how cities operate, fewer office worker (maybe down by as much as 50%) will reduce the working-day population of cities and those businesses reliant on them. Of course, in the short term, fewer tourists and tighter social-distancing rules is turning some cities into ghost-towns and driving housing demand to the suburbs.

Mass unemployment has been avoided by an aggressive furlough policy by the government, but that will change over the rest of 2020 and doesn’t bode well for the millions of people who will be affected and the sustained damage to the economy. Expect to live in an altogether more compact world with much smaller lives than what we are used to.

We think Connected is well-placed to adapt to this new world, in fact as an organisation we had an organisational and cultural approach that was already operating mostly under this new paradigm.

TRACKING THE OUTBREAK

We starting tracking the outbreak in late February. Since the first peak in early April, we have forecast the fall in deaths with quite surprising accuracy. What we didn’t see back in April was the even steeper second wave of infection – we expected the COVID-19 disease to fall to a nominal level by the end of June and then mostly peter out. However, the data shows that we are in the second wave, although ongoing therapeutic developments such as Dexamethasone and Beta Interferon will reduce the case fatality rate. It does not seem to fully explain the overall drop in deaths and the corresponding IFR. This seems to comfound the experts too.

Sadly, we’re expecting the deaths to continue well into next year and beyond, albeit at a lower level than we saw in April. No one at Connected is knowingly infected, nor immune, either. Every death is a real person, a family grieving, someone missing from the population and we understand how hard this has been. To put this into some context, at the peak almost 7,000 people a week were dying from this vile disease, as of the last week of September this is down to well under 1000 a week. In a normal (non-COVID) week, around 10,000 people die every week in the UK.

The post-COVID world is looking quite different. There is most definitely a new normal now on the horizon, one that respects social distance, mask-wearing is accepted behaviour and an improved track and trace programme.

Financially, we have not needed any of the government bailouts, nor do we plan to take advantage as we’re still operating, albeit at a slightly reduced level but continue to make a profit. It would feel morally wrong for us to take advantage of the situation when so many others are in genuine need. No staff are furloughed, and the partners in the business took a 50% pay cut from March through June.

Connected are a “fair tax” organisation and financially strong which, combined with a scalable cost base, and no-frills approach to running a business means we can comfortably weather this crisis. The balance sheet and our reserves can sustain us as the crisis extends into 2021.

This is version 20 of the document.