In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a big event for local businesses with constantly updating information about hours and temporary locations, we asked Yext, which distributes such information across a massive number of search sites and directories, to let us know how they maintained operations as their home base of New York City was crippled by the storm. Here’s what they told us:
By Tuesday afternoon, we knew that our office space at Chelsea Market would likely be without power through the end of the week and that more than one-third of the company did not have a hospitable living/work environment (no power, no water, no Internet). In addition, many more were crammed into apartments with friends all over the city. We decided to find temporary work and living space for everyone to ensure that we could solve any problems for customers, maintain momentum for the business, and to help provide support for the team by giving a safe place to work and have some stability.
The environment is actually great. People were happy to get back together, and the atmosphere is also very focused because we know that missing a week is not really an option — we are a real-time service for our clients and we have to hit product deadlines. Having aggressive goals gives being together a (fun) war-room feel.
Here’s what we did:
- Assured the safety of all the employees with all department heads reaching out to assess access to power and water
- Looked for temporary work space in Times Square, knowing that there would be event space free because of the hurricane and landed space in the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and at the Sheraton on 53rd and 7th.
- We actually have much more space to meet and collaborate here than we do at our office because we have grown so fast and have almost no meeting space left. We have three conference rooms (and AV and food).
- Booked space for multiple teams that need to work together (enterprise sales, product, direct sales teams, etc.). Note:
- It is important for us to be physically together because we know that humans need to be together to solve complex problems faster, allowing us to more effectively help our customers.
- Being together also builds our team camaraderie and trust.
- Provided hotel rooms for over 30 employees with no access to power or water
- Many employees are not originally from the New York area so they did not have close family or large networks who lived in unaffected locations that they could turn to
- We wanted to provide an opportunity for the team to come together in a crisis
- As well, those with unaffected cars or apartments reached out early to drive or host people who were without power
- Built out the space to support engineering and sales teams
- The Internet capabilities weren’t ideal for a technology company working on many computers so we hacked together wifi by bringing together routers from people’s homes
- Yexters were in need and the company stepped in (with shelter, food, power, and Internet for those in need)
- Serving our customers is not something we can or will step away from. Having a focus that people get behind really makes getting back to work fun.