COVID-19 Update (v28)

Updated 2021-05-10, first published 2020-03-05.

FINAL UPDATE (probably)

HEY, WE’RE ALMOST THERE.

We’re most of the way through the staged release from lockdown, and the whole country is getting a little bit giddy: we’ll see friends again, pop to the pub, and by mid-summers eve we’ll be back to normal – well, a new kind of normal.

This will likely be our final update unless we are unfortunate enough to suffer a VOC outbreak that overwhelms us. The UK economy is well on the way to recovery, and the new normal is now just normal. The price has been high and still being paid by poorer and less well-prepared nations. Our thoughts are with them.

We still have a little while to go, so remember HANDS – SPACE – FACE – VENTILATE. Our offices remain closed, and we plan to work exclusively remotely well into 2022, despite the relaxing restrictions. We follow the government recommendations, “everyone who can work from home must do so” and have done so since the start of the pandemic. In March 2020, we had scaled back our office facilities in London and Leeds and may permanently close the Yorkshire office as early as Winter 2022.

Strict social distancing remains in place, and the wearing of masks is mandated in all indoor and crowded public spaces. You should read the Official Government Advice. This information changes frequently. Other jurisdictions will have different policies and laws, specifically in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

From day one (well, late February), we adopted the sensible “those who can work from home should continue to do so on a continuing and permanent basis and avoid the office unless necessary”.. We have kept both our London and Leeds offices closed since mid-March 2020, and that is likely to remain the case until 2022 at the earliest. 99% of client contact is on Zoom/Teams/Facetime/Skype/Slack etc.

We believe we must ALL 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 25 years since we adopted remote working), the team operated 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 has anyone reported 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 several measures to reduce further to spread of the virus:

  • Our Summer ‘21 Corporate Get-Together is cancelled postponed till Christmas. Summer and Christmas 2020 events were cancelled.
  • The team communicate using digital and telephony and work 100% from home. Our offices will remain fully closed until at least the autumn.
  • No unnecessary face-to-face meetings. We use Zoom, Skype, Teams, Meet, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Slack to communicate. We have had zero physical business interactions since mid-March 2020.
  • 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 a minimum of 2m gaps and avoiding crowded places: the tube, peak-hour travel, and trains. The wearing of masks in indoor and crowded spaces is obligatory.
  • Screens on computers, tablets, and phones should be cleaned as per Apple’s updated methods that 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: The 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, producing vitamin D at a slower rate. We advocate for folks to receive the vaccine but respect that this is a personal decision.
  • 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 the risk of infection. Social distancing must be in place at all times.
  • Adopt a pragmatic approach to being aware of our surroundings and being prepared to take protective measures such as wearing masks.
  • Access to both Antigen and Antibody tests have been secured, and a regime of “possible exposure; antibody test; on positive an antigen-test” is encouraged where any high-risk activity is unavoidable.

A CHANGING WORLD

The world changed in 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 dramatically affect how cities operate; fewer office workers (maybe down by as much as 50% in some sectors) will reduce the working-day population of cities and businesses reliant upon 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. The long-term outflow from cities will have a profound effect on civilisation.

An aggressive furlough policy has avoided mass unemployment by the government, but that will likely change during 2021 and doesn’t bode well for the millions of people across the world who are affected by 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 for the foreseeable future.

We know Connected is well-placed to adapt to this new world; in fact, we have an approach that was already operating mostly under this new paradigm as an organisation. The world came to us. Our FY20/21 is likely to be our most profitable in our twenty-five-year history.

TRACKING THE OUTBREAK

Like so many, we started tracking the outbreak in late February, and we urge everyone to research and source all claims before believing or re-sharing them. Our view is the mainstream media have acted appallingly during this outbreak, prioritising clicks and eye-balls over honest and informed reporting.

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

Financially, we have not needed not accepted any of the government bailouts. We continue to make a healthy profit, and it would be 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 initially took a 50% pay cut at the start of the pandemic to ease the pressure on cash flow.

Connected are a fair tax organisation and financially stable with near-zero debt. Combined with a scalable cost base and a no-frills approach to running a business, we can comfortably weather this crisis. Our balance sheet and reserves sustained us as the crisis deepened, and we are in a stronger place this year than we were two years ago, before the pandemic hit.

This is version 28 of the document.