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Team Guidelines Under COVID-19: Message #2

5 min read COVID-19 Communications
Courtney Seiter
Courtney Seiter Former Director of People @ Buffer
Team Guidelines Under COVID-19: Message #2

This team communication regarding COVID-19 is part of our COVID-19 Response Series. You can see all the messages in the series here.

  • Shared: March 12, 2020
  • Posted by: Courtney Seiter, Director of People
  • Title: Buffer Guidelines for 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Note: We’re grateful to Human Made for sharing their guidelines openly via their handbook! Some of this language was borrowed from their guidelines and adapted for our use

Buffer guidelines for 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We know the development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is on a lot of minds right now. It has officially become a pandemic, and it seems likely that many of our lives will be changed or disrupted in some capacity by this situation.

As Buffer is internationally distributed, the impact will be different depending on where you are in the world. (Some of you have already been living in a changed world for some time now; this resource is probably a bit late for you and for that we’re sorry!)

The global situation is changing quickly, so these are our guidelines for now – we expect they will change over time. We will keep you updated as the situation evolves, and please refer to the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, or relevant agency in your country for the latest. Please, stay safe – keep up with your local advice and follow any guidelines and restrictions put in place by your government.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a form of coronavirus. Symptoms are similar to pneumonia and include fever, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath. The current evidence is that most cases are mild, though can be more serious in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and people with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung disease. COVID-19 is less serious than other types of coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, but it is more contagious.

Productivity and working from home

This news is overwhelming, and it’s normal to feel distracted or stressed by it. It’s definitely hard to be as productive as usual while the world is going through this traumatic event, and that’s not only OK but expected, especially for an empathetic team like we have at Buffer. In the days to come, we’ll be rethinking “business as usual” on a few different levels, re-considering timelines of the most strategic projects to ensure we’re helping our customers during these turbulent times. We’ll be sharing more details on this as they develop.

Prepare to work from home: Different countries are taking different approaches, so make sure you stay up to date on what your area recommends. If your government enforces work-from-home, then you may find that you need to work from home instead of a co-working space or coffee shop. It’s worth planning for that now.

School and childcare closures: For those who have school-aged children or kids in other types of childcare situations, it’s possible that your normal work routines might become disrupted by school or childcare closures.
It might be helpful to think through what your day could look like working from home while your kids are also home. If this feels challenging or stressful, please reach out to your manager or the People team to brainstorm effective solutions. There’s lots we can do, like flexible scheduling, prioritizing Threads over Zoom, etc.

COVID-19 and Buffer travel

Retreat: We have postponed the team retreat, previously scheduled for June. We will continue to assess things through the spring and summer and we will let you know when the situation has improved enough to have more information on a potential new date.

On-sites and other travel: Please avoid all other work travel right now, and don’t begin planning new on-sites or other events that would necessitate work travel. If there’s a reason you think you need to travel for work, please reach out to the People team before planning anything.

What if I catch COVID-19 or am quarantined?

Sick leave: We realize that there may come a time when you have to care for a relative with the virus, or you yourself might have the virus. Please take time off as needed (at full pay) and keep us in the loop if this happens. Take care of yourself and your family, and we’ll all work together to figure out how to run Buffer through any disruption.

Quarantine: If you are quarantined at home and you feel able to work, please do (we understand that “work” may look at bit different during this time, which is totally fine).

Being quarantined is likely an anxiety-inducing experience, and it’s tough to feel worried that you or a loved one is going to get sick. Please feel free to take personal days or sick time to process things as you need to.

Remote self-care

Let’s lean into virtual get-togethers: Even as we practice social distancing, spending time with others is important to your well-being and mental health. Let’s work together to replace that in-person time through the coming months:

  • Organize more catchups over Zoom with friends and teammates.
  • Attend team events, gatherings and hangouts to connect. (Let us know what would be helpful!)
  • Let the People team know what would be fun to try (Drawful? Meditation? Maybe we can finally get that team gaming plan going!)

Anxiety is normal; let’s support ourselves and each other: Please share and receive support in our Slack channel #culture-healthy-work and do reach out to your manager, mastermind partner, and/or People team if you’re feeling anxious (very understandable!)

Remember, how you process stress and anxiety is unique, and may be different than other members of your team. We’re all different, but we can all be there for each other and in this together.

Our emotional well-being platform Modern Health will continue to be available to everyone; please do take advantage of it! And don’t forget vacation time! As personal travel is being cancelled, scheduled vacation time is disappearing. Please do take time off even if you’re not traveling; it’s still important.

COVID-19 and your health

Follow best health practices:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Try to avoid touching your face
  • Avoid handshakes when meeting people

Stay informed but not overwhelmed: Follow the advice of your local government; re-check regularly as things are changing rapidly.Stay informed. The CDC and the WHO are updating their sites with the latest information. Further guidance on how to cope during the COVID-19 virus as well as some tips for parents on providing support to children through the outbreak can be found on the CDC website.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with news: Since Buffer is focused on social media, it might be worth saying that overloading on news via social media can be a major source of stress right now. Follow the CDC and your country/state/local health departments, add a couple of trusted news sources and then consider stopping there.

Things might change

We don’t know how circumstances around COVID-19 will develop. Things could worsen or improve. We will be monitoring things from a global level and following the advice of the WHO. Please monitor the local advisories where you are as well.

We will continue to update you as things change. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please let us know!

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