Interior of a warehouse

Learnings from the Past 7 Weeks of the COVID-19 Crisis

Written by Rich Ryan, CEO of Six15 Technologies

On March 22, along with the rest of New York State, Six15 Technologies was forced to go on PAUSE as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this initial shutdown, our small business was deemed an essential business because of our manufacturing capabilities. We could continue to operate, and even have staff on-site, as long as we did it safely.

While we are considered an essential business it is by no means business-as-usual. The uncertainty that came with COVID-19 forced us to take stock about how we would operate not just in the immediate term, but over the next year at least. A few trends became clear immediately: the importance of regiment, the acceleration of digital systems for us and our customers, and the fact that we have to stay flexible and lean on our community for the foreseeable future.

As we enter May, seven weeks after the initial PAUSE went into place, I look back at the month and a half that was. It’s been challenging, but also rewarding. These times have allowed me to identify some of the key trends I’ve seen coming out of this unfortunate pandemic that has helped Six15 as an essential business, and that I believe will make all business better when we can all finally go back to work:

  • Stay Structured: A regiment is even more important now. As we adapted to a world of social distancing and working from home, we had to quickly figure out how we would retain some level of normalcy, which meant instituting a strict structure that made us more purposeful about how we meet, while still keeping the ability to connect individually towards a common goal. The feeling of cohesiveness and shared purpose has made us even more productive.
  • Digital Acceleration: The shift to remote work is speeding up, but it’s not just those working from home who will feel its effects. The shift to AR/VR headsets will speed up as managers and workers are in different places, and remote instruction through the headsets will allow for the safety of workers while we find the vaccine.
  • Flexible Work Schedules: Our always-on culture meant the traditional work hours were going away for a long time, but with work and home blended together, the traditional workplace hours are gone. We at Six15 have always prioritized family and as such, we maintained flexibility around work schedules. As we look to re-open, not everyone will be returning to the typical 9-5 schedule, people should work in ways that are best for them. It doesn’t matter when people work, as long as your team shows up and delivers, every day.
  • Community Support is Essential: I was born in upstate New York, went to Cornell for business school, and founded this company right here in Rochester, New York, following the 2008 financial crisis. With globalization, this area of New York has seen a lot, but they have always supported our company through the talent of the region. The colleagues and friends who have helped build this business in New York have shown a commitment to continue working in the face of immense uncertainty. The true value of your employees and community will come out in times of crisis, and as this crisis has forced us to look for value in the people most immediate to us, I will always be proud to call Rochester and New York State home.
  • Be Optimistic but Prepared: No one knows when this is going to end, and when it does, no one really knows what the world will look like. We are taking our best guesses based on the facts, and while the rates of infections do seem to be going down, if there’s one thing this has taught me it’s that you don’t know what the future holds. Make sure you are prepared for any and all scenarios, including having the tools you need to immediately go back to remote operations should we see a spike in the fall.

We don’t know how this is going to end, but we can see ways this will change the way the world operates. As the infection and death rates begin to subside for the state of New York, we can learn from the experience we’ve had as an essential business to plan for the future in the right way.

It won’t be business as normal ever again, but I believe it will be better business for Six15, the city of Rochester, New York State, and, I hope, the rest of the country if we allow ourselves to learn from this experience.