How an American company is protecting its employees and operations in Ukraine

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American companies continue to take steps to protect their employees, offices and other assets in Ukraine as fears and tensions rise over a Russian invasion of that country.

“Do not wait”

Former Ambassador Sarah Mendelson is the director of Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University in Washington, DC and an expert on Russia. She had this direct and urgent warning today for American businesses and organizations in Ukraine: “Evacuate now. Get your team to a safe place as soon as possible. Find a country that can receive them. Facilitate their evacuation. Do not wait.”

But some companies are apparently taking a more cautious wait-and-see approach.

Just Answer, a San Francisco-based consumer-to-business platform, has 300 employees in Ukraine. CEO Andy Kurtzig said they are monitoring the situation carefully “so that we can support our Ukrainian team and help them keep them and their families safe. We have communicated to all of our employees through emails and meetings company that we have a long-term commitment to Ukraine and will do everything we can to ensure their safety and productivity.

Kurtzig said the company has taken the following steps to protect its employees and business operations in Ukraine.

Crisis management team

Creation of a crisis management team that regularly assesses the situation and is ready to be activated when needed.

Business Continuity Plan

Creation of a business continuity plan to respond to the different types of threats that may arise due to the escalation of the situation.

The plan includes the following provisions.

Moving house

  • Relocation of employees and their families to cities of their choice

Data backup

  • Backing up data on servers in the United States

Internet access

  • Develop internet backup options with independent internet providers

Communication

  • Establish emergency satellite communications

Documents

  • Create hard copies of key documents and important plans and procedures

To be able to

  • Obtain backup power (diesel generator)

Equipment and supplies

  • Storage of equipment, goods and supplies

Succession

  • Development of succession plans for colleagues who may be forced to relocate or leave the country.

“Trying to Keep Calm”

Of course, US companies aren’t the only ones closely monitoring developments or deciding to stay – at least for now – in Ukraine.

Ukrainian software company Alty has an office of 40 employees in Kyiv, the country’s capital.

Public relations manager Kate Derkach said that “…we are trying to keep calm and operate as normal, communicating with local and international customers and continuing with all processes.

She noted that “we do not insist on our staff being physically present in the office and encourage remote working. Almost the whole team prefers to stay in the places where they feel most comfortable and safe, at home. Some of our employees have left the country, but mainly for holidays. They also continue their work.

Derkach said company management has provided the team with a detailed instruction, which outlines key steps to take if the situation escalates. This also includes operational matters, but [is] was primarily aimed at preparing the team for any scenario that may or (hopefully) may not occur.

“No matter what, we continue to monitor the situation every hour, communicate with the team in a positive way and support each other, mentally and physically if necessary,” she concluded.

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