Overcoming Covid-19 Hurdles: How to respond in a crisis (and maybe even prosper)

DSR leaders have been taking note of what works as we adapt and overcome the challenges we face in the current pandemic. We are fortunate to be in the privileged position that we may still serve our clients during this time and this article suggests best practices for adapting to this environment.

COVID-19 has brought about a new normal. Uncertainty is the reality for much of the globe. Amidst the turbulent market conditions and sometimes hectic actions of countries’ governments, it’s vital for business leaders, fortunate enough to still be in operation, to stay calm and focused on urgent measures: encouraging employees, helping clients overcome difficulties, and doing business as usual, as much as that is possible. DSR Corporation is always ready to share its’ experience in organizing a company’s internal and external activities in the face of uncertain risks and extraordinary challenges.

It’s safe to say that to handle any crisis your company should act in 3 stages:

  1. Response: Assess the situation and take necessary measures.
  2. Recovery: Learn and accommodate the new reality.
  3. Prosperity: Prepare and shape for the “new normal”.

All the three stages should be considered by the company’s management concurrently. The sooner the better. That’s why you should act without any hesitation at the same time plan strategically with the “big picture” in mind.

Today we are going to cover the first stage, Response. It’s crucial to understand that an unpredictable emergency situation stirs a lot of uncertainty in people’s minds. Mass hysteria on social media adds a great deal to it. That’s why resilient leaders should exercise emotional intelligence to show empathy and compassion for employees whose priorities have shifted to concerns about family members health.

The first priority is to ensure the health and safety of your team, followed by their economic stability. The best way to help your customers is to take care of the team.

Transparency is another key element of the “Response” stage. It will help to greatly reduce the level of uncertainty and maintain trust, perhaps even growing trust in the process. This applies not only to your employees, but also to client-relationships.

While transparency could be thought of as a strategic solution, clear, concise, and timely communication is a tactical step to achieve the necessary level of transparency.

Focus on your mission – that’s the overall priority for every business. Despite any temporary hurdles and difficulties, the main goal for a company is to do business as usual and help its’ clients to overcome the challenging situation.

The Response stage can be broken down into 3 steps which will help to guide your team and customers in a time of crisis.

  • Ensure health, safety and economic well-being of your team.
  • Achieve a high level of transparency through concise and timely communication with your employees and clients.
  • Put your mission first. Maintain business continuity.

Now, with the overall strategy is outlined, it’s time to share some practical tips to keep your employees and clients engaged and your business running.

1. Ensuring the Health and Safety of Your Team

During this pandemic, it’s necessary to avoid any contact and maintain
social distance to stop the virus from spreading. Your employees should work
remotely if they can. You can help them to get used to home office with tips to
create working environment and minimize number of distractions.

Forewarned is forearmed. It’s vital to send corporate guidelines on how
to act and practical tips from government and health agencies to help avoid harm.

Ensuring your team is safe:

  • Company-wide messaging regarding best practices and guidelines for staying safe and healthy, as well as company expectations.
  • Location specific messaging based on the recommendations of local authorities
  • Verification that your corporate network is capable of supporting remote work (should your employees be in a safe location)
  • Authorization of remote work for all that can

2. Tips for Effective Remote Work

Remote work can be challenging for anyone. To keep your team engaged, help your employees organize their working environments, and reduce overall anxiety, you can use following tips. They can be broken down into 2 categories: team level and employee level.

Team level:

  • Implement digital social norms, such as a morning greeting in the intranet chat.
  • Use video calls whenever possible to improve team engagement.
  • Increase communications (there is no room for comms. to decrease)
  • Practice social activities remotely, such as  hosting e-lunch, exchanging pics of home office working places, and online team-building exercises.
  • Keep communications with team members timely and concise as much as possible.

Personal level:

  • Arrange your workplace to differentiate it from the rest of your house. You can even use a corporate calendar or branded cap to create a working atmosphere.
  • Create and follow a schedule to separate your work from everyday life.
  • Have weekends. Regardless of whether your weekend is Saturday and Sunday, give yourself some time to decompress.
  • Stick to good habits or develop new ones to unwind and relax.
  • Take care of your body. Eat healthy, exercise on a daily basis, and don’t deprive yourself of fresh air. As long as it is safe, try to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside. Vitamin D does wonders for your mood and supports the immune system.
  • Disconnect from the social media hysteria and the barrage of disturbing news. Although it’s important to stay up to date on latest news and developments, reading too many horror stories about the current situation can cause anxiety and stress.
  • Stay in touch with your family and friends (while following health and safety guidelines of course). Use voice and video calls whenever possible to decrease social isolation.

3. How to Help Clients Overcome the Crisis Turbulence

Just remember that to help customers you should ensure health and safety of your own team first. But some actions are to be taken concurrently. It is of paramount importance to deliver a clear message to your partners and clients that you’re open for business.

Transparency and proactive action are the key elements of maintaining and building trust in case of an emergency situation:

  • Keep it clear that you have prepared to do business as usual (or to what extent you will do business). Send company level messaging to all clients outlining the steps being taken to care for the health of your team and your commitment to maintaining your quality and efficiency of output.
  • Encourage project managers to talk personally with their client counterparts to reinforce commitments and availability.
  • Be proactive. Try to understand the challenges your client is facing (even implicit ones) and suggest working solutions.
  • Be even more diligent and timely in responses to client questions. Make sure they hear from you quickly and frequently.
  • Aim for speed. Prompt actions are required during a crisis, so always keep in mind that a working solution might be better than a perfect one.  

4. Working from Home with Kids

Working from home with kids adds an additional level of complexity and
stress. The struggle is real! Here are a few suggestions of things to do to
help balance it, especially for family where both parents are working full time
and from home.

  • Schedule. Kids do best when they have clear boundaries and schedule. It can be challenging to maintain a strictly followed schedule, so don’t beat yourself up if it slips, but it can help keep the day on track. Here is an example: 
Example Kid's Schedule
  • Screen time. Although too much screen time is bad, there are times that it’s needed to keep the kids occupied while parents finish their work/meetings.

Not all screen time is created equal. Educational screen time is a great example. There are a lot of resources online (many of which are free) that will keep your child of any age engaged for hours, such as https://www.khanacademy.org/. There are likely similar programs available in your language or country.

  • Have breaks together. Take breaks together from work, homework, or educational activities.
  • Exercise and outdoor time. Kids have endless energy and can get cranky and mischievous if they don’t get to expend it in a constructive way. The best option, of course, is to let them play outside (away from other kids in our current crisis), but that can be very challenging. There are things you can do at home. For example, for the little ones there are interactive yoga and exercise videos available free on YouTube. Similar programming can be found for any interest and age. 
  • Balancing work with kids. If both parents are
    working and child care help is not available, depending on the child’s age, you
    may have to try different things. For older kids, it’s a matter of creating the
    schedule together and having check points to provide help and assess progress.

For younger children, it’s a bit more complicated as
they require assistance or have frequent questions. Some of the above resources
can be a good way for younger kids to have independent study/play time.  

Create alternating schedules with your partner – for example, one of you works for 4 hours in the morning while the other watching kid(s) and potentially able to do some work, and then switch in the afternoon. This of course then leaves hours in the evening for both of you to finish work after the kids are in bed. 

5. A Turning Point for any Business

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One stands
for danger, while the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the
danger — but don’t miss the opportunity.

Clear thinking, transparent communications, timely decision-making, and proactive thinking will be recognized both by your employees and clients. Seize the opportunity to emerge even stronger from a crisis situation and use it as leverage to build trust with your partners and consolidate your team.

Stay safe and prosper!

Nordic Chooses DSR & Wins

Nordic Chooses DSR & Wins

DSR Corporation announces its partnership with Nordic Semiconductor. DSR’s ZBOSS 3.0 Zigbee 3.0 software stack is part of the Nordic offering for the multiprotocol nRF53840 SoC.  ZBOSS software was formally certificated by the Zigbee Alliance in September of 2018 as a Zigbee 3.0 compliant platform.

Satisfied Clients

“We are very satisfied with the choice of the Zigbee 3.0 solution vendor for our nRF52840 multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC),” says Nordic’s Pär Håkansson, Strategic Marketing Manager. “DSR Corporation has proven itself as a highly reliable partner, working closely with Nordic to make joint production quality software. We appreciate DSR’s professionalism, teamwork and extensive experience in software engineering and Zigbee to help us deliver a new solution to the market that will broaden Zigbee reach around the world.”

What`s Inside

nRF52840 is designed around an Arm® Cortex-M4 CPU with floating Point unit (FPU) and provides the ability to support complex and demanding applications as a single chip solution. Implementation of Zigbee in the nRF52840 SoC expands Nordic’s already broad portfolio of mesh networking solutions for smart home, industrial, and enterprise industry.

DSR’s ZBOSS 3.0 is a cross-platform, high-performance Zigbee 3.0 software protocol stack implementing Zigbee 3.0. ZBOSS 3.0 is highly interoperable and has been used as a Zigbee Pro compliant platform for several chipset solutions. ZBOSS 3.0 is a market-proven product that is used to provide interoperability between 200+ products at more than 40 companies.  ZBOSS 3.0 allows all devices roles and provides extensive support for various cluster libraries.  User-friendly, high-level APIs support fast creation of applications on a predictable budget.  Built with a fixed memory footprint, ZBOSS does not use dynamic memory allocation, which leads to predictable memory budgeting.  Lastly, an important stack feature is optimized power consumption: ZBOSS interrupt-driven I/O improves battery consumption and excludes polling. Additionally, ZBOSS utilizes low RAM capacity on the target device with a special technique in handling data structures.

Worldwide Acceptance

Following the launch of this product, we are happy to announce that Nordic’s advanced Bluetooth® 5/Thread 1.1/Zigbee PRO solution won “2018 Product of the Year”. The nRF52840 chip was named winner of the “RF/Microwave” category by Electronic Products Magazine, which has been an industry icon for more than 40 years. We are both excited for Nordic and honored that they selected us as a trusted technology partner.

Thoughts After CES 2019

CES 2019 at a Glance

Every year we make our way to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas for the annual consumer electronics exhibition. Imagine over 4,500 vendors presenting new ideas and technological developments spread across an entire week — it really does give a whole new meaning to the city of lights. CES presents a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in similar fields, or different, helping catch new ideas, contacts, and ideas – it’s wonderful here.

The history of CES began over 52 years ago with organizers showing more progress each and every year. With the main theme being innovation and information technology, the width of coverage is vast:

  • Robotics,
  • Artificial Intelligence,
  • Three-dimensional Printing,
  • Design,
  • Drones,
  • Sport Technologies,
  • Smart Home,
  • Family & Lifestyle,
  • Virtual Reality (VR),
  • Games,
  • Unmanned Vehicles,
  • Music,
  • Entertainment & Content,
  • Cryptocurrency,
  • Internet of Things (IoT),
  • and Machine Intelligence.

 

All About IoT

The beginning of the year confirmed that IoT is coming to the mass market.  Focus has shifted from smartphones to other smart devices — and manufactures are taking notice.  Improved air quality sensors, door positions, windows, just to provide a few quick examples.  There are even smart window systems being developed that can inform the home when a window is opened wider than an indicated gap, for example.

Consumers can now choose between a wide variety of smart devices and systems, putting real pressure on manufactures and companies to advance smart home ecosystems. But the problem doesn’t just end there. Consumers need a way to connect many different smart devices to a single system – easy management.  This is where Zigbee and other wireless technologies flex their strength; gateways with multiantenna and customization service suggestions come to the rescue.

Hi Computer, Talk to Me

Voice automation control becomes more the norm than the rarity.  It falls into many devices and almost everyone has them now. People want to have a voice assistant in their home, in the office, and in the car, like Jarvis from Iron Man. Project recipes from the Internet to the kitchen door by voice request?  Yes, please!  Yet, even Alexa from Amazon or Google-assistant do not always suit as a compromising option.  Artificial intelligence is poised to grow wiser and communicate with people better and faster.  Companies that once winced at the idea of software in their products are now flocking to CES.  For example, Procter and Gamble – L’Oreal, are developing mirrors that can look at your face to determine if your skin needs support or treatment.  Maybe just a care cream?  Cameras take pictures of the users face and follow changes of the face in real time.  Maybe they’ll even notice skin cancer in due time.

It is interesting that companies that are seemingly far from “software” come into the sphere of technology.  These companies expand the development zone to such wide branches like automation for pets, children, sleep, and beauty.  There are even smart leashes and collars!  People even get interested in buying devices that can distribute pleasant smells throughout their homes.  And what if you could connect a device that could command three-dimensional TV? Cars? Batteries? Spotify on your steering wheel?  The ideas and possibilities are endless.

Robotics help businesses change their models.  It is especially gratifying that companies competing in the past are starting to cooperate.  To denote such activity, the new term ‘coopetition’ has appeared.  ‘Coopetition’ should bring even greater breakthroughs in overall development.  Teamwork gives rise to new achievements.  SDKs help bring the product to market.  Quick starts are real.

Meet & Talk

DSR had a lot of productive meetings with existing and prospective clients and it was the most successful CES to date. DSR was also a proud  sponsor of the Zigbee Alliance Social – an invitation only event that was a great opportunity to bring all of the members together in one location and celebrate Zigbee successes from 2018. During this event, Zigbee Alliance announced several of the new developments and expansions of the standard and also unveil the location of the next member meeting. The atmosphere for the event was very warm and inviting and perfect for conversations and celebration.

In Closing

Here are seven key CES 2019 takeaways that caught our attention:

  • IoT is finally an emerging mass market (and the data it gathers has lots of financial implications)
  • Amazon and Google are in “hand-to-hand combat” driving voice technology into the Smart Home and beyond
  • 5G, NB-IOT and Cat-M1 are expanding battery-powered WAN connectivity in amazing ways
  • Drones—from airborne to underwater to John Deere—are becoming platforms
  • Robotics are creating business change
  • Artificial Intelligence is getting smarter
  • “Coopetition” is happening in lots of places

IoT is moving capabilities out of smart phones and into different smart things. People want their homes, cars and offices to have a voice like Jarvis (see the Ironman movie franchise). And not everyone wants Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant as the go-between. Battery-powered WAN connectivity in a variety of speeds is making the cloud easier by “losing the gateway.” Drones and robotics platforms are giving new capabilities to businesses and consumers. Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is changing the way products and services interact with humans. And if Apple and Samsung are teaming up, is it time to evaluate how “coopetition” might help your 2019 business goals?