Coronavirus Courage: A Real Software Example This Week

Last week I suggested that launching useful new products was one way to help others and survive the crisis, too. One client did just that - in a week.

Last week, I explored seven ways that software and tech companies could survive the current crisis and prepare to thrive later. One way was to launch new products to help others survive. Several people replied: ‘Tracey, you’re nuts!’ One client didn’t. He launched a new product in just one week.

A New Sky Fall

Last week, the sky seemed to fall in when PM, Scott Morrison, imposed tough restrictions on gatherings of people and closed pubs, clubs and restaurants.

The streets, trains and road emptied overnight and, this week, libraries closed, dinner parties were banned and so were gatherings of more than two people. It’s surreal.

The Tech Sector Advantage

But it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom with no loo paper.

As I mentioned in the blog, when times are really tough, innovation often comes to the fore. In fact, the Tech Sector is better placed than any other to do this. We’re agile, quick and inventive.

One of the 7 suggestions I made was to recognise this strange new world and find in it new ways to help others.

One of our clients did just that: in just one week, his developers created, tested and released a new product to help emlpoyers minimise the risk of remote working. This is his story.

Clever local hero

Our client’s company, CIBIS, develops software.

Nothing original in that, you say? Perhaps not on face value. Yet, in CIBIS’s case, they have a unique combination of benefits: a practical, no nonsense approach to projects and a long track record of success with highly-complex enterprise solutions that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

So what, you say? Well, all their people are based in Australia and their services are all hosted here too. These are some pretty competitive advantages, especially right now.

Smart web builder, too

One of CIBIS’s practical products is a smart web form builder called Formlify. It lets organisations like NFPs and local councils as well as banks and utilities replace dumb paper forms with responsive, intelligent customer-facing ones.

Nothing new in that, you say, except that Formlify provides enterprise standard functionality for a tiny SME investment. Smart as well as practical, just like CIBIS’s MD, Tony Heitmeyer.

A great way to help

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing thousands of companies to allow employees to work from home, Tony had a great idea; he could adapt Formlify to become an online remote workplace assessment, so employers could asses the home workplace risk before taking responsibility for it.

You see, according to Safe Work Australia (SWA) employers are just as responsible for the safety of home workplaces as they are for corporate in-office ones, but, in the former case, they have far less visibility and control.

SWA says employers are responsible for workstation set up, ergonomics, ventilation, temperature control, access to exits and phone and a lot more. Crikey!

Real risk, tough penalties

What if an employee falls over an electrical cable or a dog or a bike or down the stairs? The last happened in 2011, long before working from home was common, and the claimant was successful against Telstra, who had to pay her legal and medical bills under a breach of the Workplace Health and Safety Act (WHS).

By the way, did I mention penalties? They’re pretty steep; as high as  $600,000 and or 5 years’ goal. This is addition to the employee’s claim, and both of these costs are per breach. For employers with many remote workers the potential costs is huge.

So, CIBIS’s Working From Home Desktop Audit lets employees login from home, create their own accounts, answer very detailed questions about their remote environments and add as many photos as they like.

This gives their employers the clarity they need to approve or reject each work-from-home request, or ask to have the environment modified.

Practical peace of mind

There is more peace of mind for employers too: what happens if the odd employee tells a few porkies to get approval to work from home – and attaches some glamorous interior pics from iStock as evidence?

If they later make a claim against their employer, the evidence will be the difference between the audit, the images and the reality. Nice.

The audit is smart and practical. It’s also been developed in conjunction with a leading WHS lawyer and, of course, is securely hosted in Australia.

I’m thrilled that one of our clients decided to relieve some of the COVID-19 pain by doing something positive – and I’d love to hear more stories like this. I wish Tony every success with this important development.

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