Intel menu +

Yondr Intel  /  General  /  My first 30 days of COVID-19

My first 30 days of COVID-19

Written by: Pete Jones / CDO and Founder at Yondr

My first 30 days of COVID-19

Written by: Pete Jones / CDO and Founder at Yondr

I was in the US at the beginning of March, working my way from East to West. I was meant to finish my week in Seattle but the coronavirus outbreak was just getting started there. We were seeing a lot of our tech clients in the US closing their doors. 

I called International SOS, the travel security firm we keep on retainer for all our employees, and they recommended I start heading East again in a homeward direction. At that point, we realised we needed to make a big decision. 

We second a lot of our people overseas. The official messages were mixed and the government hadn’t yet taken a clear line. But we knew which side of it we needed to be on: even if it turned out to be a false alarm, it was better to give our people the extra time to prepare. 

It was a fast decision made by the senior leadership team on the day, based on the facts we had. We pushed it out via all our internal channels. We recorded a video explaining the decision, sent everyone an email, published blog posts and sent SMS messages, so everyone knew. With 20/20 hindsight, I’m glad we did.

In the absence of clear facts, that was absolutely the right call. A lot of businesses pay lip service to their corporate values, but it’s only in a crisis that you see how much they’ve truly been embedded in your organisation. 

We brought our people home and closed our overseas offices a good week before most other businesses, and well before that was the official advice. We’re used to managing our team remotely, so transitioning to a 100% remote working environment was seamless – and again, several days ahead of the government closing the schools and requiring people to work from home.

Acknowledging uncertainty is the price of doing business

The current situation is unprecedented and we’re seeing different businesses react to that in different ways. Some are taking a command-and-control approach, with daily conference calls at 8am to make sure teams are still working properly. We’ve heard CEOs come out with clear, confident messages – for example, stating there will be no job losses – and then having to retract them when they realise the situation may go on longer than they first expected.

Part of Yondr’s commitment to our people is acknowledging it’s fine not to have all the answers, for leaders as well as everyone else. As candid friends, we’re prepared to be genuine, to state facts but admit we don’t have all the answers, and not try to create a sense of false positivity (or, conversely, assuming doom and gloom). 

We’ve used video messages to keep everyone up to date and reinforce the need to look after themselves and their loved ones first and foremost, ahead of any work priorities. That’s a more accessible, human way of communicating than very corporate, perfectly-worded emails from the CEO.

The reality is we’re all learning as we go, trying out new tools and new practices. Some trial and error is going to be critical in the coming months, especially as we move further in time from people having had any face-to-face interaction. 

That uncertainty extends to getting deals done. We have to acknowledge a higher level of friction and have those discussions up-front in negotiations: ‘We know this is unusual; this is going to be a little harder than normal, and that’s ok.’ We need to be as clear as possible under the circumstances, but human with it. 

A future that takes the unexpected into account

Yondr has been well-placed to weather the impact of COVID-19, since our cloud-first infrastructure has meant working remotely is essentially seamless. Everyone had that capability already. Collectively, though, there are big lessons we all need to learn.

At a conference in Singapore back in September 2019, we began a discussion about how we as an industry need to get better at scenario planning. Drawing a parallel from the energy sector, big organisations like the International Energy Agency and Shell have departments that research different scenarios, like macroeconomic and environmental shocks, and make these available for free in the public domain. They can then strategically plan for how they would respond in these scenarios.

We clearly need something similar for the data center industry, since there’s currently no broader planning like this. That was several months before COVID-19 hit and that discussion now looks both prescient and poignant.

There are also lessons in continuity planning. Most industry plans are for high-impact but short-term scenarios. What about when you’re beyond the first couple of weeks, and the situation looks like it could persist for a year? 

We know that one challenge coming down the track is when (and how) we reopen. At some point we’re going to need to ramp things back up as fast as possible, but in a socially responsible way. We’re working on that already, preparing remobilisation plans so we can serve our clients fully as soon as it’s safe.

I’ve been hugely impressed with the way our people have stepped up and I credit that to the time and resources we’ve spent building a strong culture within Yondr.

A situation like the one we face now is the acid test of your embedded values. You find out in a very raw way whether you’ve done a good job of integrating them into your day-to-day behaviours. 

Seamless data center project delivery starts with a health and safety mindset
There’s one question every client asks us before starting a project: Why should we choose you over the competition? Here’s how we answer that: At Yondr, our speed to delivery is lightning quick. We have extensive in-house capabilities. We’re home to some of the most skilled and experienced people in the industry. 
The right way to approach virtual deals
And there it is! The perfect spot. You could point to it on a map. That’s where we’ll build your data center. If only it were as easy as that...
Yondr’s framework for failsafe security
Data centers are now part of our critical infrastructure. They are integral to the daily operations of government, business and society at large, as important to our lives as energy and water supply.
The democratisation of tech holds the answers to one of our industry’s biggest challenges
The democratisation of tech is opening up the data center market - an industry once reserved for highly skilled specialists - and making it accessible to more people than ever before.
Setting sail: The astonishing skill and strength of character needed to compete in a solo race around the world
Yondr is sponsoring sailor Pip Hare to compete in the Vendée Globe race, one of the world’s toughest endurance events. We asked Pip to share her story as she enters her final weeks of training for what promises to be an incredible journey. Over to you Pip!
Peter Jones, talks European data center market with DatacenterHawk
Yondr’s CDO, Pete Jones, sits down with David from DatacenterHawk, to share thoughts on the data center market in Europe.
From apprentice to global operations director — how an apprenticeship changed my life
Born and raised in London’s East End, I definitely wasn’t the smartest kid. I applied for 50-odd positions and was granted three interviews, one of which was for a technician’s apprenticeship with the Post Office.
Critical spaces from scratch in a year – how Yondr does it
There’s no such thing as being a single moment late. If a data center isn’t completed on time, it will be delayed for months or there will be serious consequences for other projects no amount of money can fix. 
The evolution of data centers / data center development across the decades
The phenomenon of the data center has played its full part in creating the interconnected and smaller world that we now find ourselves in. Data centers have a history going back to the mid-1940s when the first specially created computer rooms housed large military machines that were set to work on specific data tasks. 
A different approach
Now, we all know there’s nothing sexy about data center operations. And you only hear about operations when something goes horribly wrong. So as we manoeuvre through the pandemic, whatever the crisis throws at us, we know any new processes and procedures we introduce need to remain simple. 
The pace of hybrid adoption
The paper sets out the very clear and compelling case for hybrid cloud adoption and recommends how companies and teams need to evolve to get their decision making right, choosing which workloads to put where, when the fork in the road arrives.
What clients are asking now
We are now several weeks into COVID-19 lockdown measures. The initial wave of enforced changes to work and living routines is behind us, and the world is slowly adjusting to the idea that we’re in this for the long haul.
PTC 2020 Honolulu
Yondr attended the Pacific Telecommunications Council in Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time this year. As venues go, this was one we were quite excited by!
DICE Local – data center investment conference
Infrastructure investors are in part expanding their scope to support the sector, but not in full. This is proposed as being owed to infrastructure such as roads, tunnels and bridges with “tolls” going one data centers, we typically pay penalties for poor performance.
Microsoft’s take on health and safety
Just out of a great session at DCD Dallas by Doug Mouton of Microsoft that was short, sweet and undeniably compelling. 
Real estate change…does it have to be hard?
Picking up a copy of the FT while travelling back from Asia last week, I was struck by the notion of the editor. To secure the front and back pages, and inside cover with an announcement that our system and markets need to change deeply resonated with me.
DCD Singapore: Yondr’s first foray in Asia
Having just returned from a week in Singapore I am now taking stock of the talks, meetings and people I met over the last few days.
DCD Singapore – sustainable data centers
The provision of a recognised scoring system for data centers (such as LEED) could be a ‘powerful’ (very poor pun) addition to our sector. We as developers, operators, builders and tenants must embrace such initiatives.
Microsoft’s take on energy
Ever wondered how hyperscale end users see the energy world? I was lucky today to get some great insights today from Jim Collins at Microsoft during his fireside chat at DCD San Francisco.

Like what you see?

Don’t miss out on future Intel. Sign up now to receive our latest content straight to your inbox.