This is an adapted (shortened) version of the talk I just gave at a company All-Hands meeting.
goTenna’s mission is building mesh networks to power programmable mobile infrastructure on a global scale with the aim of ultimately creating a lasting and positive impact on society. Our technology is all about empowering people with critical communications in the highest-stakes, life-or-death situations.
As we face this rapidly escalating global health crisis, we have yet another opportunity to make a difference.
I believe it’s our social responsibility to assist in “flattening the infection curve” when it comes to COVID-19. All data points to the situation in New York — and all over the world — being much worse than reported, due to both under-testing and the fact that 80% of people with the virus experience very mild symptoms.
Infectious disease experts say the U.S. is about 10 days behind where Italy is today. If we want the situation here to look more like South Korea than Italy, we have to contain and mitigate community spread, especially in dense metropolitan areas like New York City.
It is a failure of our policymakers that we, as a company, must independently create our own coronavirus mitigation/containment policy, but here we are. Effective immediately, we're transitioning everyone at the company to working from home.
By continuing to give you all tools to use to adjust your personal/family risk, it is our hope that you will think not just about yourselves and your loved ones, but also about how you can limit spread in your communities. Effective social distancing helps to protect your entire community. Essentially, if those of us who can stay home, do, and proactively minimize our contact with others, we enhance mitigation/containment of COVID-19, and can keep more hospital beds open at any given moment, and ensure that the people who do need medical care can get better care, faster.
I will keep you all updated on how developments regarding COVID-19 affects our remote office policy and our business in general.
As a company, I feel proud that we’re doing our part for the broader community by closing our office and asking you all to work remotely. That’s a decision I can make as CEO.
What I can’t decide is what you all decide to do in these next weeks.
So I leave you with this: an appeal. As a member of your community, I ask that you really take social distancing to heart.
Don’t go work at a café, don’t take public transit if you can avoid it (and especially not during rush hour), don’t go to large events. If you’re sick, call your doctor or use one of our telemedicine benefits before you leave your house. If you get COVID-19, and your symptoms are mild, truly and totally quarantine yourself at home for 2 weeks. If you’re healthy and get lonely, see people out in the open (spring is coming), in small groups, or over video. Buy medicines you may need and groceries that have a long shelf-life, so you can avoid going out as much as possible. Watch movies at home, not at theaters. Cook at home, and avoid restaurants and delivery services. Keep washing your hands and stop touching your face.
While I don’t have enough time to get into the political economy and structural issues that underlie the current situation in New York and beyond, the long and short of it is that economic instability is the ultimate pre-existing health condition. Everyone at goTenna is very privileged to get to work from home and have good healthcare. But society’s core systems are about to get very strained — we already know we don’t have enough hospital beds and respirators and health care workers to deal with the coming onslaught — so everyone here is in a good position to help alleviate the strain because unlike others, we can really commit to social distancing without sacrificing our salaries and our well-being.
The vast majority of us are not in what are known to be high-risk groups. But we interact with those who are and every day, out in New York City, we are risking other peoples' lives.
I read some epidemiological numbers regarding COVID-19 that really bring this home. For every 20 of us who stay home for four days, that collective action will, on average, save 1 life over the next two months. As a company, with 70 of us here, over four days, we’ll save 3.5 lives over the next two months. The 70 of us staying home for the next two weeks will save 12.25 lives over the next two months. If we stay home for four weeks, we'll collectively save 24.5 lives. If we have to stay home longer, we will.
Don’t panic. Just try and stay healthy. Take all the advised precautions. Take advantage of cozy time at home. And, yes, let’s keep the business moving as usual. Global health crisis notwithstanding, we have customers whose missions and lives depend on our technology and we must press forward.
Stay the f*** home.