At our March Academy here at CharTec, Jason Rivas, the Human Resources Administrator for ARRC and CharTec, gave a talk titled; “Discussing the Coronavirus at the HR/Employer Level.”

In this session, Jason touched on many aspects of how the virus is affecting the MSP industry, and how we, as IT professionals, are equipped to support our clients in this time of need.

We think it is important information, so, for the next few weeks, we will be using sections of Jason’s speech for our weekly blogs. If you have any questions about the content, or you would like to converse with Jason directly, you can contact him at:

Click THIS LINK to download our complementary COVID-19 Email & Voicemail Scripts. If you’re a CharTec member, you’ll find more resources in CORE.

The Storm we see coming:

Here in California, we have something we call “Earthquake Weather.” Ask any Californian about it and they’ll tell you it’s a real thing – except that, it’s not. There’s no scientific data to back it up. Yet we choose to believe it so we can prepare for it.

Right now, we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s nothing we could see coming, yet it is something we are prepared for.

Our internal message to our clients is, “As a tech company, we have so many different ways to deal with this problem.” I asked Alex (Rogers) before he departed on a trip out of town last week, I said, “What happens if they close the borders and you can’t get home?” He answered, “Please. I’ve got my laptop, I’ve got food, shelter, I’ve got friends in the community, I’m good. I can run this whole thing from there.” I said, “That’s what I want to hear.” Then he said, “And the action plan you put together, I have no doubt that we can do the same thing internally.”

Even though the virus is a surprise, this is a storm we’ve seen coming. This is an event all MSPs should be prepared for. Here at CharTec, we employ a handful of employees who only work remotely. What we’ve learned internally we can share externally with our clients because they’re going to need that expertise. They’re going to need advice on how to set-up employees who will need to work from home.

As MSPs, we need to face this challenge head-on. The best thing we can do as a group is to acknowledge the monster in the room. When we face it, we diminish its size and proportion.

A case in point; when we were kids, some of us feared what we imagined was in the closet. “There’s a monster in there, what do we do?” We’d turn our back to it and then our minds would build-up an irrational fear of the unknown. “It’s going to come up behind us!” When your leg would drop off the edge of the bed you’d think, “Oh no, I’ll lose my foot!”

When we finally got old enough to open the door, we’d see: a band uniform, football outfit, whatever it is, right? You’d sit there going, “This is stupid.” When we get to an age of reason and maturity, we realize if we just confront what we’re dealing with, we diminish it. We deal with it and we move on. That’s what we want to do with our internal message when communicating with our staff. And we need to keep in mind that they may currently be fearing the monster under the bed.

But the internal message at first is to acknowledge what’s happening. Yes, we know what’s going on. Yes, we are preparing for any “what if.” But at this point, we haven’t had a reason to enact those things. The most important thing is to make sure your staff knows you have a plan. If this happens, this is how we will react.

But the thing is, COVID-19, it exists. So, confront it, look at it for what it is, just deal with it. “Hey, guys, let’s talk about it.” Take the sting out of it. Address your team members, plan to meet with everybody, and talk about it, “Hey, that’s what it is. This is what it is. This is what happens when you catch it, what the symptoms are. Walk them through this. Control the message by answering questions and start working on your plan. Be prepared.

We all have disaster recovery plans for our clients, right? Why can’t that work for us? I actually prepared internal disaster plans years ago. I prepared a recovery plan for an earthquake that could cause a lot of damage. The other day I pulled out that plan and was happy to see how well it fit with the issues we are facing right now. I called Alex and said, “This is pretty cool. We’re already ready.”

The next step was meeting with our department heads to find out how prepared they were. I asked my tech team, my senior admins, “I want to test our disaster response plan. I have to push everybody out of the building and go remote in an hour. I’ll check back with you in 30 minutes, and I’ll check back with you in an hour. Go!” 20 minutes later, they came and found me and said, “Ready to go. This is what needs to happen and we can clear everybody out of here in about 30 minutes.” I loved it. And nobody panicked. Nobody’s concerned. But we had a way of converting everybody to remote, that quickly.

In many cases, hardware is going to be a thing. So is software, programs, access, and file storage. Right now, you should be having conversations internally with your network admins or system admins. How many people do that for your company? They’re going to be busy. Your team needs to find out if there are any steps they are missing. Get your leadership team in sync now.

We are going to be the constant in our communities for a lot of variables. Because when people go home and they need to telework, when that happens, our network is going to be hit really hard. I hope Cox, AT&T, Spectrum, all these major internet providers are ready for the load because there’s going to be a high demand.

Have you emailed your clients about this? We did. And some of our clients already have disaster recovery plans in place that we can help them with. Some of them don’t, because they always kick that can down the road. But we’ve already gotten some good feedback from it, a lot of good conversations. From our end, we just want them to know that we are ready to help.

NEXT WEEK we’ll continue our conversation on responding to the COVID-19 crisis.