Reopening as an Essential Business in the New Normal of COVID-19

As an aerospace company in California, we’ve been categorized as an “essential business” during the COVID-19 crisis. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to continue our work when so many businesses are struggling, and it has kicked us into high gear to devise entirely new, foolproof protocols so that we can safely do so.

Acubed as a company is just shy of its five year anniversary. In that period of time, we’ve discovered that the best way to survive and thrive is to learn quickly, fail fast, remain humble and pivot when required. In that sense, dealing with COVID-19 has not been so different: it has required a lot of flexibility, humility, elbow grease and an unwavering commitment to finding creative ways to continue delivering impactful innovations to the industry at large.

At the outset, we focused our efforts on supporting our employees’ mental and physical wellbeing as they began to adjust to working from home. We started offering online wellness and health sessions, virtual sports and cooking classes; we sent them company swag to their homes, and offered a myriad of ways to connect to one another remotely.

Just two weeks into the shelter-in-place order, our Chief of Staff—with the help of a colleague—rented a U-Haul and spent two full days trucking around the Bay Area to deliver sanitized desks and chairs from our office to everyone who requested them. In total, they logged over 265 miles, and made a lot of employees happy and more comfortable in the process.

Our leadership team regularly discusses how and when to open back up our HQ to employees—on a voluntary basis at this stage. Those meetings include remote guidance from our CEO, Mark Cousin, whose business trip to Toulouse, France, has turned into an extended stay. We cannot wait for him to return to our time zone, even if his face, like all other Acubers’, will remain visible only via a screen - or behind a mask - for a while longer!

We’ve finally landed on a set of guiding protocols that we decided to compile into a format that all who love air travel know and love—the aircraft safety video! It serves as an easy-to-digest, entertaining video to demonstrate to employees the steps we’ll all take together to navigate our workplaces anew.

Our safety protocols include instating temperature checks, providing all employees with hand sanitizer, gloves and disposable masks, and of course, respecting physical distancing. We’re encouraging people to take personal items at the office home, so deep cleaning is easier for the crews; we’re limiting meeting room occupancies, and making gloves mandatory in the kitchen and dining spaces. These are just a few of the new protocols that we must all adhere to to ensure a safe working environment.

While most of our teams working from home are still able to make great progress, some are reliant on accessing our labs. And we all can’t wait to get back to small talk at the coffee machine, a quick game of ping pong, and especially to taking to the skies with new and exciting flight test programs. “Essential” to us means leading by example whenever possible. We’re hopeful we can carry that moniker proudly as we begin to slowly and safely reopen our HQ this week.

Let us know if you have any questions about our approach—we’re happy to share what we’re doing and what we learn along the way.

- Paige Wilson