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As the world shuts down and its streets become deserted, the lifeblood of its economy continues to flow – not only in the office buildings but also inside the private homes of determined individuals and through the capillaries of the world wide web. With healthcare workers saving lives on the front line, the battle against coronavirus is also being conducted by second-line people, so that when, as it must, this pandemic passes, life, and the means by which it is lived, can resume.

"What usually takes us 40 hours, we did it in 3."

After Italy, the same ritual was to be repeated in many other countries, including Spain, where Javier,  IT Network Manager for Spain, was preparing for the outbreak. “When it reached Italy, we thought ‘Wow, it’s so close’, but nothing happened here in Spain, life went on as normal.”

It changed in a heartbeat when cases were reported in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and Valencia, where the local football team had to travel to Bergamo, in the Lombardy region of Italy, for a Champions League match. Lombardy was, at the time, becoming a hotspot for the virus.

They were thinking about suspending the match but it went ahead anyway and that’s when I thought, ‘We’re going to have problems here too’. I remember our first crisis meeting. We were calmly discussing the next measures to be taken when suddenly a colleague burst in to tell us that a case had been detected in our Madrid site. We stopped breathing.

Although it was a false alarm, it was on our minds. “We knew restrictions could soon be imposed, and that we would need to be able to work from home. We are a call centre so this was a big concern for the company. It depended completely on the connection because, without a good Internet connection, nothing would be possible. And even if you can connect, you might have interruptions during conversations, periods of latency, then you have serious problems dealing properly with customers’ requests.” 

It's not too late to prepare a plan. We had to think of the most effective solution to allow the best connectivity possible for all. We started to connect the customer services teams, the most important services, first, and then all the other services, one after the other. We finally had 50 services ready to connect. It was like a roller coaster. What had taken 40 hours before the outbreak, had to be done in three.”

So you have a certain number able to connect, they go home, and you test, test, test. We have been working on this project for three weeks, non-stop. Now 95% of our employees work from home."

Applause Spain

The efforts of Javier and his team did not go unnoticed inside Comdata. Like most Spaniards, their manager stands at her window every evening at 8 p.m. to applaud for the heroes of the country’s health service. 

That day, she told us that she had clapped, and clapped, and clapped, telling herself, ‘This time, this round of applause is for my IT team. They are my doctors and nurses’. She told us she would clap for us every day. It was really amazing to receive this supportive feedback. We feel we are working towards a common goal, for Comdata and for someone who recognizes our skills and efforts. It recharges your batteries when you hear something like that.

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