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How 8th Light is Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Parker Palmer describes the tension between the darkness of what we see today and what we know is possible in the world as the tragic gap. Today we all stand in that gap watching so much darkness around us.

At 8th Light, we want to be a beacon of care and kindness in a world of fear and doubt. We are struggling as a company too. It is easy to blame or second guess, but our commitment to our clients, friends, community, and competitors is to hold to our values.

We will ultimately get out of this crisis. There will be damage, and we will need to start making investments for the future we want to see. It is today’s behaviors and actions that will determine the foundation for the next chapter. Although standing in the tragic gap is painful, we can use this crisis to make investments for a world with more equity.

Taking Care of Our People

We were proactive in transitioning all of our employees to work from home as soon as they felt the need, and closing each of our offices as soon as we saw the number of local reported cases rising. Many of our team members are already comfortable working from home regularly, though the current pandemic has created some unique complications. Some of our employees must care for loved ones at home, and we’ve been working with clients to support flexible working hours that balance our multiple responsibilities in a way that’s sustainable for everyone.

Finally, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to radical transparency inside our company. As an employee-owned business, our employees need not just a “what” but also a “why” behind each decision we make. We’ve been holding weekly video calls for the entire company, where I relay company updates and provide space for questions, reactions, and recommendations. We’re also publishing regular updates internally throughout the week, and have created many specific Slack channels dedicated to supporting each other and maintaining strong connections.

Taking Care of Our Clients

As a consulting company, we often get direct exposure to everything our clients are going through. Most often this has meant sharing successes, which is incredibly rewarding. However, the current crisis has meant trying to navigate a lot of really difficult challenges together.

Many companies are not prepared to transition to remote work as easily as we did. Teams that are used to colocation risk losing an immeasurable amount of context and implicit instructions unless they make concerted efforts to capture and relay this information. Luckily, this is a skill that can be learned, and we’ve been helping train teams and their managers in Los Angeles, Budapest, and multiple cities in between to improve their ability to communicate, give feedback, and ultimately work together from behind computer screens.

Unfortunately, many of our clients have had to make difficult staffing decisions, and their team members’ availability has been less predictable as they deal with the current crisis themselves. We’ve been able to leverage our Managed Software Services team to quickly ramp up and deliver quality solutions that allow these partners to focus on all of the other pressing challenges facing their business.

Preparing For an Uncertain Future

We’re all facing an unprecedented health and business environment, and there’s no established playbook for what to do next. We know we might be faced with some incredibly difficult decisions in the near future, and we’re finding every possible way to defer those decisions as far out as possible. We’re doing our best to hunker down, “flatten the curve,” and stay whole—and we’re doing our best to support others as they do the same. While we don’t know exactly what the world will look like on the other side of this crisis, my two decades of leadership experience have taught me that if we continue to support and trust each other, we will be much more prepared for whatever comes next. If your team needs support, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

I'm also excited to share a few initiatives we've started to help us all stay connected and continuing to learn during this time:

Paul Pagel, Chief Executive Officer

Paul Pagel co-founded 8th Light in 2006, and has been a driving force in the software community ever since.

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