What a wild year.

Back in mid-February, we had our first internal discussions at Smart Dolphins about this thing called coronavirus, just before the world would get to know it as the pandemic. The first case in the United States had been identified in Washington State and then an outbreak on a cruise ship had been announced on the news. If only we knew the full impact of what was coming.

From a technology perspective, our eyes widened quickly. We discussed what the impact would be if there was an exposure at one of our clients’ offices and they had to send everyone home for two weeks.

We asked ourselves how many of them would be prepared? How many could even stay in business? What if we had a positive case within our own team? How many business owners were already quietly losing sleep about this?

We have always thought about business continuity in terms of cybersecurity risk, earthquake, flood, theft, or fire; but a pandemic was a new one.

IT support

Our leadership team met to discuss the business impact on our client-base. From this meeting we decided to act fast. We began reaching out to clients one-by-one to explain options, identify their risks and develop plans with everyone that was interested in doing so. By mid-March, we sent most of our own team to work from home (WFH) and shortly afterwards everything changed.

This began the most intense period in the history of our company (and this was the case for many of our clients as well). Day after day, more of our clients were sending their employees to WFH. Some took a phased approach or had already been working with us on a plan to embrace remote work. For others the decision was reached abruptly. We had dozens of companies and hundreds of end users needing urgent assistance to get up and running at home with many not ever having worked remotely before.

We felt like we were on the frontlines of the small business community trying to keep the economic engine moving.

We supported and coordinated hundreds of extra support requests, conducted dozens of additional client touches, executed several quick remote work projects, began hosting Microsoft Teams and Zoom training sessions, drafted weekly client email blasts with updates, supplied loaner and rental hardware to some clients and more.

Some Dolphins experienced exceptionally long and intense days during the first six weeks of the pandemic. It was like our team was hurdling down the tracks of a speeding train whose brakes had stopped working. But through consistent hard work and by supporting one another we were able to stay in control until the train slowed down and eventually came to a stop.

Despite the intensity of this year, this has also been a rewarding one. IT workers around the world were some of the least talked about essential workers. Fortunately for us, we felt more client appreciation than ever before. Most of us would describe 2020 as an extraordinarily challenging and tumultuous year. I would certainly describe it as such, both personally and professionally. It was also a year that reminded us how important our work is to the business world and to the people whom we serve; how rewarding it is to work alongside a wonderful and highly competent team every day. From a personal perspective, I learned how to take a bit more time to take care of myself so that I can be of greater service to our clients, my teammates, and my family.