COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, taking lives and livelihoods on its path, and seriously impacting global economy. During this time, as a company and SMB, we have stayed focused on: keeping our employees and their loved ones healthy and employed, continuing to provide unparalleled service to our customers and partners and helping our first responders and fellow countrymen with our resources. Via this blog, I want to share some of the best practices in which our management team and employees collaborated to implement.
Soon after the seriousness of the pandemic was identified and stay at home orders were issued by state governors, HYLA was deemed as an essential business, as we were instrumental in supporting our customers to ensure that communications equipment and associated accessories were available undisrupted. As such, our HR and legal teams provided an essential business letter for employees, so if required, they can travel to work unhindered. We also issued a company-wide memo informing everyone that it is within their right to stay at home and work from home, if they felt more comfortable with that.
First and Foremost: Ensuring Employee Safety
While for most office-based employees, such as engineers, administrative staff, product managers and support teams, working from home was a viable option, we do have a factory-like set up at our Technology and Processing (TaP) Center in LaVergne, TN. Our 250+ employees based there did not have that option as they need to be physically present at the location to process devices. The steps our leadership team took to ensure business continuity and safety of our employees is textbook example of leadership under crisis. “Workspace Distancing” was created by reconfiguring the workstations to 6 feet apart, to adhere to CDC recommendations on social distancing. Lunch and breaks were staggered and optimized to have as little traffic as possible. Automatic temperature scanning upon entry to the facility was deployed, so incoming employees could be scanned un-intrusively and safely. Incoming inventory was aged for an additional period to allow any viruses to die off and masks and gloves were made available to all employees. After shift hours, additional security was brought in and all dock doors and ventilating windows were opened to allow air circulation. A “round the shift” cleansing practice was implemented where a crew of 5 people continuously wiped down and cleaned all surfaces at every location, as well as a deep sanitizing crew brought in weekly to sanitize every square inch of the facility with material that is safe for electronics and humans. My favorite part was how that team handled the shortage of hand sanitizers. Greedy entrepreneurs had bought out every single hand-sanitizer bottle available in the greater Carolina-Tennessee region, creating a massive shortage. Undeterred, our team at the TaP Center ordered Isopropyl alcohol and pure food-grade aloe gel and made their own hand sanitizers and made them available throughout the facility in spray bottles – classic HYLA ingenuity.
All Hands on Deck
As a business that deals with pre-owned mobile devices, it was very important that we understand the market dynamics and pricing well. Our BI and Analytics team studies global trends, historic behavior and provided our Asset Value Recovery team with relevant information to ensure that our customers assets were not being victimized during a time of chaos in the market.
Our Product teams maintained constant communication with our customers to ensure that we are working on capabilities that were relevant to their business needs and making adjustments where required. Additionally, our Account teams never slowed down for a day and amidst a historic economic downturn continued to win new customers and sign contracts.
Once Congress approved the PPP and SBA loans, our Finance and Accounting teams sorted through the qualification criteria and applied for eligible loans, all while continuing with their day job of managing the finances of the company.
Helping Those in Need
And, my proudest moment was the passion displayed by some of our Sales team in wanting to help out those on the frontline and people in need. One of our carrier partners was fielding requests from hospitals and educational institutions for all types of communications equipment and accessories. One example was chargers for hospital patients. We discovered that many patients get rushed to hospitals and may remember to take their phones but not their chargers. Due to quarantine conditions in hospitals, they have no way of retrieving these items from home and hence, when their phones soon lose their charge, they can no longer easily be in touch with their loved ones while hospitalized. HYLA prepared required charging kits and shipped them to these hospitals to help the affected people and their families. Serving communities in need during a crisis is a unique honor and something we at HYLA are proud to do in partnership with our customers.
Keeping Everyone in the Know
In order to ensure constant communication and allow employees to ask questions freely, we started weekly, non-mandatory townhalls to maintain a dialog about every situation that we are seeing out there. Transparency is huge part of HYLA’s culture, and I cannot emphasize how much this meant to our employees. People shared funny stories about working at home, recipes they were trying out, and mask making ideas. Smaller groups also started virtual happy hour sessions, where everyone would get their favorite beverage to hang out virtually and share a laugh.
While I see many people pontificating on social media about the nation’s situation with COVID-19 without so much as lifting a finger to do anything to help the situation, I am proud to be a part of a team at HYLA, where along with our partners, we set up best practices to sustain the business, take care of our employees, serve our customers and help those on the frontline and people in need.