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Saguarians during the Pandemic

At Saguaro, we recognize that everyone has had to make shifts and adjustments due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  In today’s community news, we follow a few of our colleagues in a day in their new work lives.

The subject of the email reads: Saguaro Technology Prevention Committee – Update 93. It has been as many working days since more than 97% of our 300+ Saguarians have not come into the office.

Cristi, a Senior QA engineer, lives nearby and is always readily available to come into the office for some urgent testing and to restart some servers. He is happy this morning to just walk the few minutes from his house to the office. At the door, the security guard checks to see if he is wearing a mask on and takes his temperature. When entering the building, he uses hand sanitizer to disinfect his hands. “It is a little odd that almost no one is around.  Now the full lab with big windows that have signs that read ‘engineers at work, do not feed or tap the glass’ is now a working space for maximum two people at a time”, he says.  “But I am happy that since COVID-19 hit, we have had zero incidents and were perfectly capable to take care of our clients’ needs.”

At lunch time, he goes to the cafeteria where Manu, one of our SYS Admins, is already having lunch together with this wife Daniela, a software engineer herself. They greet from a distance and remain confined within their designated areas marked by red tape on the floor. There can be no more than 6 people in the cafeteria at the same time, and, with a total number of 8 people in the building today, this is easily achieved.  As usual in the last months, since catering was suspended, they eat their own packed lunches and discuss the latest developments and the summer vacation plans that needed readjustment. It is particularly hard on their kids. Manu is one of five people on a team dedicated to making sure that the whole infrastructure was fit for an overnight switch to work from home for more than 300 people. “The days before the lock-down were particularly stressful, and we worked tirelessly to make sure everyone had sufficient hardware and the access needed to be able to work from their remote office.  I’m proud to say that we pulled through,” he recalls. “Then, during the lock-down we needed to take further steps:  the OpenVPN capacity was increased through the addition of secondary servers; more services were integrated into the AD authentication, and the Cisco Unified Communication cluster and WebEx were updated to the latest version.  Also, for the first time, a complete quarterly maintenance was done remotely, including security patches and upgrades for major systems such as the network, wireless, firewalls and corporate servers, which makes us very proud and keeps us optimistic that we have the capacity to overcome whatever new challenges might be ahead”, he adds.

With lunch over it’s time to hit the stairs, Manu & Daniela use the main stair case, while Cristi opts for the one close to the cafeteria. Not only is a little exercise good after lunch, but since the start of the pandemic people were advised to refrain from using the elevator. On the way to the office they greet Vali, who is busy at the other end of the corridor by the water cooler, through their masks. Vali has just come in to check some customer support issues and prepare some reports. He is one of the company’s technical directors. He takes his water bottle and heads towards his office. He quickly sanitizes his hands once again as he passes the reception desk.

“We’ve all been in work from home mode since mid-March and everyone needed to adapt to a new work environment, which could be more or less work-friendly. For some of our colleagues who are doing independent work, it sounds like a blessing and we supported them in what manner we could. We allowed them to take home all the equipment they needed to be more comfortable, some of them took even their more ergonomic office chairs. But, for me, as coordinator of activities, it has been challenging to keep things running from a remote office without the direct contact to managers and teams,” he says. “However, I am pleased that all our initial commitments to all our clients were successfully delivered on time. We will stay in our work from home mode until at least the end of September.  We want to firstly focus on the health and safety of our colleagues and their families, which will in turn allow us to continue delivering the same prompt, high quality products and support to all our clients.  This is what makes us a preferred strategic development partner in their endeavors,” concludes Vali.

As late afternoon draws near, video-calls and conferences start to connect the Saguarians who are spread out in hundreds of homes to people across the Ocean, where a new work day is about to start. A new email alert flashes in the right-hand corner of their monitors. It is the Saguaro Prevention Committee’s Update no. 94.

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