Planning for the COVID-19 Pandemic at OptimalBI

Victoria Maclennan
March 17, 2020

We find ourselves in unprecedented times. All across the globe the impact of COVID-19 is being felt, it’s heart-breaking reading the stories of loss, the impact on societies, businesses and individuals as a result of measures put in place to restrict the momentum of the virus.

Our primary concern here at OptimalBI is for our team, our whānau, customers and the wider community. Keeping everyone safe, ensuring we continue operating to support our customers businesses and the wider economy.

If any of our team members are exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case, or are diagnosed with COVID-19 themselves we will communicate this with all customers immediately, take immediate action to isolate ourselves and all actions possible to restrict the spread of the virus.

Keeping us safe includes our mental health. Everyone reacts to situations differently and finding yourself suddenly working in isolation won’t sit as well with some people. Below we have included our approach to mental health as an indication of how we plan to keep the team connected, motivated and involved in team-based activities – albeit remotely.

Our approach to this pandemic

Like other organisations we started our planning for COVID-19 once the virus had transferred from China to other countries. Pandemic was already one scenario modelled in our Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans.  With Aotearoa being so isolated with a slower introduction of the virus has created a great opportunity for us all to learn from other countries and businesses.

A key aspect of our focus is to adopt all recommendations set out by the Ministry of Health in New Zealand including frequent handwashing, coughing and sneezing into the elbow, avoiding personal contact, staying away if feeling unwell (to name a few) – you can read the full list here.

Below is an overview of what we have and will be doing as a team and how we intend to work with our customers. If you have any questions on this, please feel free to comment on this thread or if you are a customer of ours please contact Victoria.

Working Remotely

OptimalBI is a flexible employer where everyone in the team can, and does, work remotely on a permanent, regular or occasional basis. We have the technology and processes in place to enable this to happen on an ongoing basis. This extends to arrangements with the majority of our customers, who we support and deliver for remotely every day.

We also hold a remote team day every 3 months, and have done this for 10 years. This includes an all hands team meeting where everyone is in their remote working location, the great benefits of this include confirming the technology works for everyone, all team members participate in the meeting on the same remote basis, and testing our BCP processes.

As a team we have agreed the trigger point for us all working remotely on an ongoing basis will be when there is community transfer of the virus here in New Zealand.

Until this occurs there are a few physical protections we have put in place.

Protecting our mental health

The OptimalBI team have access to an EAP (employee assistance) programme and are encouraged to use this. We acknowledge this is just one tool in the toolkit so additionally while working in isolation we are implementing the following team-based activities:

  • Increasing our use of collaboration tools (Yammer and Teams)
  • Daily virtual stand-up for the entire team
  • Daily virtual stand-up for project teams
  • Daily short check-in 1-on-1’s
  • Daily quiz via teams (this is going to be hilarious)
  • Remote yoga 3 times a week (our lovely instructor will be teaching us via video)
  • Weekly all hands meeting
  • Weekly competitions – we love exercise competitions and will be adding others to keep us all connected and motivated

Keeping ourselves and our customers safe

In our office

In addition to the Ministry of Health recommendations, like other businesses we have installed additional hand sanitiser stations, we use paper towels in the bathrooms and are changing our kitchen tea towels a couple of times a day.

We are wiping everything every day – whiteboard markers, light switches, door handles, surfaces, lift buttons, the spacies machine, the foosball table, you name it we wipe it with antibacterial wipes.

Everyone is cleaning their own phone, keyboard, desk and other personal workspace on a regular basis.

If we are expecting any visitors, we will check if they have travelled to any countries in the last 14 days, ask whether they have signs of respiratory illness/fever, or have been in close proximity to someone who has, before they visit.


Many of us use public transport to get to and from the office (while we still do so), all are encouraged not to touch surfaces, carry hand sanitiser and wash their hands as soon as practical after the journey.

With national travel, we are unlikely to undertake any travel for the foreseeable future, if travel is required for a customer we will discuss how essential that travel actually is and recommend using remote working technologies as an alternative to in person events that require travel. Upshot is we are not undertaking any non-essential travel.

Courses and Workshops

As you know OptimalBI run courses in our office. We have 2 courses scheduled in the next few days. All participants have been given the option to postpone and been advised of the actions we are taking to protect everyone from transfer in the office / asked about their recent travel.

Once these scheduled courses are complete, we will investigate either remote delivery (virtual courses) or defer running additional courses in the near future.

Customer Site Visits and In Person Meetings

We are actively encouraging as many remote points of connection as possible, there is great technology out there for virtual meetings and chat clients, email etc for consistent comms.

If however any of our team members need to meet with a customer or visit their site our policy is to continue adopting the Ministry of Health recommendations, not to shake hands (or hug) as greeting – there are great resources out there demonstrating other ways to greet someone like this one.

Communication is key

Throughout this pandemic we will be communicating directly and often, with our customers, with our supporters and our staff. Communication is key in these difficult and challenging times.

Supporting our friends

Finally it’s worth mentioning that we plan to continue supporting the charities we actively support, our providers who are all facing similar challenges to our own in these uncertain times, and as a NZ owned company will be supporting other NZ owned businesses whenever we can.

We will continue to blog and share great information for everyone to use and might even start delivering other content online for you to consume. Sharing is key to everyone getting through this pandemic – we are all in this together.

Kia kaha, Vic.

Victoria spends much of her time focusing on Digital Inclusion, Digital Literacy and Digital Rights.  

You can read her OptimalBI blogs here, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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