We’ve all faced many changes in recent weeks as people are being asked to stay at home and practice social distancing to help fight the spread of COVID-19. For many of us here at Barracuda, that means working remotely so we can carry on with our mission to make the world a safer place by providing innovative email and network security solutions, which protect our customers online business operations.
Our hardware network security products are built in San Jose, Calif., and the response to this evolving crisis has naturally been a bit different for our manufacturing employees.
To give you a better look at how that team has adjusted to keep production running smoothly while keeping workers safe, we spoke with Ken Martin, SVP, Worldwide Manufacturing Operations for Barracuda. He shared some insights on how the team has come together and stayed resilient during these challenging times.Get an inside look at how the @Barracuda manufacturing team has adjusted to keep production running smoothly while keeping workers safe #COVID19Click To Tweet
Q&A with Ken Martin, SVP, Worldwide Manufacturing operations at Barracuda
Q: What did the manufacturing team do to prepare for some of the current challenges?
Employees who are able to work from home are doing so and have been for the past several weeks. We were able to get our remote employees up and working from home very quickly. The manufacturing line has always run a little bit differently. We took the initiative very early on to put things in place. For example, we got masks and sanitizers and gloves and deep cleaning supplies and implemented a process for those precautions starting back in January. Folks are still a little nervous about coming into the office, and I believe the best way to mitigate those fears is to put in extra safety measures and to openly talk with them and reassure them. We also make sure they understand how important the work that they’re doing is for our customers.
The other thing that we did very early on is once we started getting indications about COVID-19 and the implications for our supply chain in China, we accelerated our inventory positioning ahead of this crisis. So that is another reason that we’re in pretty good shape, largely thanks to Suzanne Xu and her supply chain team. In addition to that, we also ramped up on inventory before the pandemic escalated, basically trying to add an additional couple of weeks of inventory to our finished goods so that we could be prepared for where we’re at right now.
Q: How have things changed in the day-to-day for you and the team?
We went to what we call a 50/50 schedule. We recognized the fact that we were still going to need people to come in. But because we positioned our inventory with enough buffer to allow us to slow down our production, we’re basically having half the production team come in each week. So, one week, we have one team, and the other week we have the other team. That’s done two things for us. One, you come in for five days, but then you’re going to be out of the office for another nine days, which we’re hoping is an opportunity for people to make sure they’re staying healthy — they’re reducing the risk of infection happening by an employee coming in when not well. Second, having only half the team here at a time also allows us to space everyone out and keep appropriate social distancing.
Q: How has the team responded to the challenges? How are you seeing them come together?
My team is very interesting in the way that they look at the work. There is a level of intensity and drive and push for success. They take it very seriously, and they own it. It’s not me out there saying, “You guys need to build more, or you need to work harder.” It’s them saying, “Hey, we’ve got this under control. Don’t worry about it.”
Q: What is helping them stay motivated as this situation has evolved?
We are very focused on our people and have always been. Whether you’re here in manufacturing or you’re not here and working remotely, your safety and well-being are being taken care of, so just take that off your concerns. You can see that we are extremely busy. If we weren’t busy, I think there would be a lot of concern, but we are busy. We are just as busy as we were at the end of last month and the month before that. That keeps the team motivated and working hard. We also recognize outstanding effort of our teammates with quarterly bonuses for selected individuals. This sets the standard that others strive to achieve.
They have also heard the message from me that if you’re sick and you don’t feel well, stay at home, and we’re supporting that. Everybody’s working together. If you can’t come in, then we’ll get somebody else in to help. It’s a notion of, if you’ve got fears about your paycheck while you are ill we’re going to address it. So, we’re trying to alleviate their concerns, we’re talking about all the positives that they’re doing. These folks make a difference, and so we talk about it all the time.
Q: Is there anything else you’re doing to keep things running smoothly and minimize disruption?
We did a lot ahead of time to prepare, plus the folks that are working remote are probably working just as hard or even harder than they ever have. From my engineers to my supply chain team, they’re making sure that anything that’s needed to keep those production lines running is happening. We’re taking material positions to continuously take advantage of the market and trying to keep demand up to our supply chain so that they know they have something to deliver because this trickles back and forth.
One of the other things that I did last week is I took some time to go thank our FedEx drivers to make sure they know that we appreciate them coming in every day and doing what you’re doing to keep us going as well. So, it’s really a team effort. From facilities and IT to all the rest of the groups that are here supporting us to make sure that we’re up and running is pretty cool to see.
Anne Campbell is the public relations manager for Barracuda. She's been with the organization since 2014, working on content and public relations for Barracuda MSP, the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda. She started her career in newspaper and magazine journalism, and she brings that editorial point of view to the work she does, using it to help craft compelling stories.