The Modern World, Technology, Social Distancing and Pandemics
Like most of you, I have no expert advice to give related to the current worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19 – also known as the Coronavirus. Thus, I won't presume to offer advice or wisdom on that topic. But everyone is talking about, reacting to and being affected by the pandemic. It seems almost insensitive to not acknowledge that.
As the President and Founder of AFT, one thing I am an expert in is my company. I think this is a good opportunity for me to just tell you what we are doing as a company – to give you some insight into AFT and how we are responding to the pandemic.
First, to the right is a photo of the AFT team taken last October. This past January, we updated our Vision Statement:
A sustainable world where fluids are transferred safely, reliably, and efficiently.
Second, AFT is an international company with customers in 80+ countries. As everyone knows by now, COVID-19 began in China in late 2019. AFT sells a lot of software in China, and I personally was in four different regions of China in November. If you are interested, I wrote about it in this blog from November: Engineering Technology East and West: Riding on a Bullet (Train) in China. I also visited South Korea on that trip, another pandemic hot spot. I missed the beginning of the pandemic by about a month. Lucky me! COVID-19 has resulted in AFT having to postpone a training class in Canada and workshops in Thailand and India which were scheduled over the next few weeks. We held our own training seminar in Colorado two weeks ago and had two South Korean attendees postpone their trip.
Finally, AFT has been investing heavily in automation and cloud-based infrastructure over the last 10 years. This makes it relatively easy for us to respond to the recent emphasis on "social distance". Starting today, we moved our business operations to work remotely from our homes around the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. I am writing this from my living room.
No one at AFT is known to have COVID-19 as of today – or been exposed to anyone who has. And no one in our households have either. There have been only four reported cases of COVID-19 in our region of the state. Unfortunately, the one death in Colorado so far was a local person who was elderly. Very sad.
Last Friday we made the decision to work remotely. I think working remotely will impact our productivity to some degree. However, if we do not distance ourselves, the authorities are guessing that 20-70% of the population will get COVID-19 – and a certain percentage of those people will be hospitalized. It is therefore likely some of our staff will get this virus and possibly be hospitalized. If that were to happen, that also will affect our productivity in a negative way. No matter the path we choose, we expect an impact on our productivity.
We have our software developers writing code today from their homes. They are getting the finishing touches on AFT Arrow 8, which is expected to be released next week. They are also working on AFT Impulse 8 which we hope to have finished next month. We have our support team taking calls and emails from their homes. We have our sales team helping customers place and fulfill orders from home. And our marketing team is working on their tasks from home as well. We have a skeleton crew of a few people who came to the office today based on their own choice. They are keeping their distance from each other. We are all connected due to some cool modern technology and our efforts to invest in and capitalize on that technology in recent years.
If we are a little slower responding to you during this time, please be patient. We are doing our best. I suspect you will see no impact because of our great team of people.
That is a little peek inside AFT. I wish all of you the best of health and good fortune during this time.