Easter holidays this year is decidedly different. While we can’t hold our usual festivities, we can still live out the spirit of the holidays — choosing hope and connecting with family and friends.
So let me take this time to offer you all an update on how our Flat Planet family is doing here in the Philippines.
The Local Situation
Let’s begin with the stats. The past weeks saw the number of confirmed cases rise to almost 4,000, with recoveries at 96 and deaths at 182.
The National Capital Region, where we are, has been under lockdown since 14th March. The quarantine period was supposed to end this weekend, but looking at the rate of infection vs. testing, it was wisely extended to 30th April. Over this entire time, the media’s reported that 24,500 tests have been done. Not many, but with local and international help, the government is eyeing wider testing starting 14th April.
All our staff are now working from home and, in the midst of this crisis, appear to be very thankful to have a job. They are all working very hard; we have people logging on 2-3 hours early to start their day and going on to pull 10-12 hour shifts day after day. I think even more than just gratitude for a job in these times, work has also become a bit of a welcome escape from not just the crisis but also from being cooped in a house without much options on things to do.
Our view is that when the government lockdown is officially lifted, we will continue to operate under our current lockdown setup for another month or so.
We, like you, don’t want to rush to return to the office too early lest we risk the spread of infection amongst our staff. This would impact not just operations but our capability to deliver results for our valuable clients.
We are thinking late May or even 30th June as the earliest reasonable time to lift our company lockdown. Of course we are keen to hear any concerns (and ideas) you might have and will work to address them.
THE AUD x PHP Exchange Rate
In reality, our greatest challenge has been the exchange rates. The AUD-PHP exchange rate is at the lowest it’s ever been, effectively reducing our revenues and increasing the costs.
At the moment we are simply opting to draw deep breaths, holding onto the hope that things return to some kind of normal in the next 4-6 months or so, and asking our overhead staff for sacrifices (which they are graciously giving).
Over the long discussions we’ve had with many of you, we know that some are doing the same in your businesses.
Living the Spirit of Easter
We choose to be hopeful of a recovery, noting that Australia seems to be emerging as one of the nations leading in terms of its management of this global crisis. Some momentum appears to be building in the media there towards a shift in the general mood — away from the panic, terror, and despair of the past month, and towards a sense of quiet confidence that we will get through this and, once through, that we will move forward.
Flat Planet also believes that this whole event will reveal to many business leaders the potential that remote workforce hold for their businesses and there will be a greater general acceptance of the whole idea of having remote teams.
We are remaining very optimistic about the future beyond this time. And we are extending the same to you. Hope is on the horizon.
Wishing you, your families, and team members a safe and restful Easter.
Flat Planet, CEO