Wednesday, April 2, 2020
Working from Home or Living in the Office
This sums up how we’ve changed the way our whole GO-VA tribe works.
We sent 80% of our teammates home with their office workstations, at no cost to clients. This way, they can stay at home to heed the enhanced community quarantine conditions that now cover all of Cebu island—and remain productive.
Some of our competitors charged clients a fee to send a PC home with their team member.
Under our value of Care—for both teammates and clients—we chose not to charge extra. Everyone’s reeling from COVID-19 as it is.
Our agreements for those working from home:
- Be extra productive: Screenshots enabled so clients can see what team members are working on.
- Keep time tracking and payroll management apps on the whole workday.
- Results Coaches lead regular online huddles, so teams feel connected.
- Team members must gain their family’s help in protecting work hours from distractions or interruptions.
A different commitment
For about 20% of the team, working from home isn’t an option because of strict data security requirements.
So, our Founder Matt Kesby and 70 teammates have agreed to live on-site for 4 weeks, since last March 28.
Local governments in Cebu City (where Cebu I.T. Park belongs) and the rest of Cebu island (where half of our teammates live) have allowed BPO and export companies to keep on operating — a wise move to keep bringing essential revenue into the economy.
But some strict precautions are required, like reducing the in-office workforce to under 50 percent. We’re well below the limit here.
Our agreements for those living on-site:
- Physical distancing: We’ve moved the desks so that there’s at least one empty desk between workstations.
- Wear protective masks at all times. (Even before the Cebu City Government made this mandatory starting April 1.)
- Our nurses check everyone’s temperature on-site every 4 hours.
The main island of Luzon went into lockdown last March 17 and will stay in lockdown until April 13.
No public transportation, no classes, no work in most businesses.
But BPO and export firms can still operate and keep the economy going.
This gave us a chance to prepare in Cebu. Here, we are fortunate that the provincial government closed its borders to all domestic flights and ferries effective March 17. Only cargo is allowed to go through.
Starting last Saturday, March 28, checkpoints have gone up on the borders between Cebu City and its neighboring cities. Cebu is officially on lockdown (except for cargo) until April 28.
We acted as swiftly as we could:
- Obtained a curfew exemption from the Cebu Provincial Government last March 16, the first in Cebu’s BPO industry to do so.
- Submitted our contingency measures to Cebu City Hall last March 26, again the first in Cebu’s BPO industry to comply with enhanced quarantine rules.
- Arranged for a shuttle service for teammates who still live at home in Cebu City but need to come to work.
- Arranged for teammates who cannot work from home to live on the premises from March 28 to April 28. Our Chief Happiness Officer is also on-site to make sure everyone is taken care of.
The situation keeps changing fast and we have to keep finetuning our plans to stay ahead.
We are grateful for the support and cooperation of our entire tribe and our clients, and remain confident we can emerge from the complex challenges of COVID-19 stronger than ever.
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Stay Sharp in the Midst of Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we work and live faster than we’d all like.
If we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or anxious at times, that’s perfectly normal.
Let’s be grateful we have frameworks and practices we can apply to stay agile, productive, and calm—whatever else may be happening around us.
Here are 4 such practices GO-VA Founder Matt Kesby shared with the tribe (whether working from home or living on-site). We hope you’ll share them with your loved ones, colleagues and business contacts.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
How to Communicate in a Time of Crisis
For most of us, fear is the biggest issue in dealing with COVID-19.
That’s why it’s important that you understand how to communicate, using proven principles and practical frameworks, so you can lead yourself and those who depend on you through crisis and opportunity.
You will prosper and benefit from these approaches.
Sign up here so you won’t miss this powerful opportunity!
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Open for Business
To our community in Cebu, thank you for calmly taking responsibility together.
Cebu is open for business, and here we act with love, not fear. We’re well prepared because our leaders have taken decisive action and we’ve been proactive from the beginning.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
I’m writing to you all who have teams on our night shift to give you an update from the latest press releases overnight. And to answer more questions recently asked.
Curfew for Minors & School Suspended
The Cebu City Government made an official announcement that there would be a curfew from 10 pm to 5 am for all minors. All Schools have been suspended for 2 weeks with children studying online from home.
Potential Curfew for everyone
There has been a news article that the curfew of 10 pm to 5 am will be extended to everyone: https://
From our contacts, the government has been talking about this and will be pushing through with the curfew but have not officially announced yet. We need to submit a letter of exemption which we will do on Monday. Workers in the outsourcing industry are exempt from the curfew. When the curfew is announced business will be given a grace period to apply.
What does it mean?
When implemented Team members need to use their GO-VA ID’s to be able to travel between 10 pm to 5 am to/from the office. We are double-checking that everyone has an ID with our new address on it. If Cebu follows Manila then public transport will still be available. Fewer people are allowed onto public transportation for social distancing so more time may be needed to get to the office. From our understanding so far there will be checkpoints with lists of company exceptions to allow workers to travel after showing ID.
There is still ZERO CASES of COVID 19 in Cebu City.
All Cebu borders air and seaports are being shut into Cebu at midnight tonight for 30 days. So far all cases of COVID-19 are on other islands.
What we are doing at GO-VA
- We have personnel on our building entrances checking for fevers with a quarantine procedure in place should someone try to enter the building with a fever.
- Just hired an extra nurse. So next week we have two nurses on our team. We often get our nurses to do home visits or check on our teams in hospital for an extra level of care
- We have a doctor on site 3 mornings a week that is free for GO-VA team members.
- Added an additional cleaner to the team so door handles and desk are disinfected daily
- Washing hands campaign
- We send people home when they are sick
What if someone in our building has COVID-19?
The building will be shut for 1 to 2 days to disinfect.
Work from home?
At this stage, working from home is not needed and it is business as usual especially for our clients that requires a higher level of data security and highspeed internet. With all children at home for online learning for the next 2 weeks, we expect to see some issues with home internet along with the challenge of distractions when working from home. If your team member is working from home our Results Coaches will be shifting to new procedures to support your team’s productivity.
We continue to monitor the situation on an hourly basis. However, If you would like to discuss a work from home option with me please reach out to me. We have collected data on team members’ home setups and can offer objective insight for who is ready to work from home.
Final note, it really is business as usual and you will find both the founder Matt and myself in the office available to speak with you. Along with the COVID 19 Updates please look out for some value adds coming your way across the next couple of weeks.
Friday, March 13, 2020
What that Metro Manila lockdown means
Another good reason to be grateful we’re in Cebu.
Overnight, President Rodrigo Duterte made an announcement to lock down Metro Manila for one month to stop the spread of COVID-19. This will be from March 15 to April 15.
Airports and ferry terminals will be closed, as well as schools and government departments (except emergency services and health care). No public events.
Private business may continue to operate and ask to offer flexibility.
Please remember we are in Cebu City. This is a one-hour flight away. And we are on a different island. Think of Sydney to Brisbane or LA to Las Vegas or London to Dublin. Number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu: ZERO.
The worst-case scenario is if a person in our building had COVID-19, the building would be closed for one day to disinfect it.
We are alert but not alarmed. There is no need for your team member to work from home.
We are doing the following:
- Our team were responsible for getting the building manager to assign personnel to take temperatures at entrance. We have reminded the team that extra time is needed to get into the building.
- We are hiring an additional nurse to be on-site.
- We have a doctor on-site 3 mornings each week.
- We are doing additional disinfecting of door handles and desks.
- Signs are up in bathrooms to wash hands, and the management team including Matt and I remind team members to wash hands often.
- Hand sanitiser dispensers have been placed at the lift entrances on the ground floor and at our reception area on the 9th floor.
- No handshaking or high fives. For now.
- If team members are sick, they are reminded to stay home. This has always been our policy.
Grab Services (they’re just like Uber) have suspended operations in Metro Manila and Cebu. So we will remind team members to give themselves extra time to get to the office on time.
We will keep you updated frequently. Later today, we will email you a link to a status update page.
Thursday, March 12, 2020
This week, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that 49 persons in the Philippines have caught the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
All 49 were tested and admitted to government hospitals in Metro Manila. As of today, there is no confirmed case in Cebu, where we are based.
These are some of the steps we’ve taken so far to prevent disruptions and, more importantly, protect the health and well-being of everyone in GO-VA:
Fever checks: Starting today, March 12, persons who want to enter the building have to get their temperature checked in the lobby or at the entrance to the car park.
Anyone whose temperature is higher than 38 degrees will be led to a waiting room.
If that person happens to be a GO-VA team member, we will be notified. A nurse or doctor from GO-VA will go to them to check their vital signs.
If no nurse or doctor is available, we will call the team member’s emergency contact to come collect them and recommend that they proceed to the nearest clinic for a check-up and advice on what to do next.
Recovery plan: We have collected information from the whole team to find out who can work from home, in the unlikely event that the government declares a temporary closure of major business districts.
Your Results Coaches will let you know what we’ve learned from your team.
Purely as a test run, you may like to allow your team member/s to work from home for the first hour of one day? Please let your Results Coach know.
Travel history: We are finding out from team members if they have traveled abroad in the past month and where. Or if any member of their immediate family has traveled abroad since January.
The Philippine Government has restricted travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea.
Clean hands: We continue to remind all team members to observe hand hygiene. This is something we do all throughout the year.
Cleaner surfaces: Our maintenance team have received instructions and supplies to clean door handles, lift buttons, and biometric scanners more frequently.
They will be asked to disinfect desks regularly as well.
Health care workers on-site: We are hiring an additional nurse and will soon have two on the team, full-time.
A doctor visits GO-VA on three mornings each week, so team members who need to see a doctor will not have to sit and wait in a crowded clinic.
In late January, the health department here advised people to avoid shaking hands when meeting someone new or greeting a colleague or friend.
We’re taking reasonable precautions (including not shaking hands or giving each other high fives, for now) whilst doing our best to focus on the work at hand.