Live: Our response to the Coronavirus

Hugh Francis
Sanctuary Computer Inc
5 min readMar 9, 2020


We’ve been finding it difficult to understand what we should be doing in response to the spreading coronavirus in NYC, and how similar sized businesses are handling it.

In an effort to crowdsource advice, we’re sharing our evolving response here.

Last updated: 5:34pm — April 4th, 2020

It’s been a minute since our last update. Phew! As you have probably guessed, we’ve been more-or-less WFH since March 12th — it’s going well so far.

I’ve had to sneak in to the studio a couple times to use the fast internet there (I take the ferry from Red Hook and don’t see a soul) and Iz occasionally picks up checks (although most of our clients have switched to bank transfer).

We’ve been ramping up on some charity related things. Here’s a few:

  1. Web Presence Wednesdays

Each Wednesday, we run an online trivia game, where the winner chooses a Charity for us to donate $250, and we also ship them a Medicare for All sweater. So far, we’ve had around 90 competitors, and given away $750 to charities around NYC. We’re planning to further ramp this up soon!

Play along on Web Presence Wednesdays at

2. A little tech help to NYC Makes PPE

The folks at NYC Makes PPE are a self-organizing group of makers who have designed, open-sourced, and are producing face shields and cotton masks for hospital workers in need here in NYC.

We’ve been working to help make their driver <> maker dispatching a little easier, and helping out on the website front too.

You can make a donation over here.

3. Some strategy & online presence work for Rethink Food

The folks at Rethink Food have been rallying together to setup a donation platform to mobilize all of the unused restaurants & kitchen teams in NYC to produce low/no cost foods for shelters & soup kitchens like the Bowery Mission, etc.

We’ve been helping them organize their intake process, and are in early talks about building out a user facing website to build a strong donations platform.

Last updated: 10:51am — March 12th, 2020

Our rehearsal WFH day went swimmingly yesterday. Everyone was super communicative, and used slack as their “source of truth”. It was great to see!

Today, we’re expecting almost all of our team to be WFH. However, in solidarity to our Chinatown community, we’ll be catering studio lunches from local restaurants until we switch to 100% WFH.

We’ve got an open list of those restaurants below (feel free to add your favorites!):

This article was shared around yesterday — and there’s some super valid points in here about why we have a responsibility as a community to start social distancing. As such, we’re now strongly recommending that Brooklyn- based Sanctuary Computer team members work from home.

Last updated: 3:23pm — March 9th, 2020

While Sanctuary Computer consists of mostly mid 20s — early 30s people, who are not among the highest risk demographics, we feel we have a responsibility to our community to do what we can to suppress the speed of transmission, and ensure the safety of not only our team, but their immediate family & friends.

As such, the following is in effect until April 6th, when it will be re-evaluated:

  • Optional Work from Home: Working from home is now optional for all Sanctuary Computer members. If you have a commute that involves riding a packed subway or busy public transport, it’s recommended that you instead work from home. If you prefer to work from the studio, for the time being, that’s OK.
  • Work from Home rehearsal: For a non-remote team, working from home comes with a variety of challenges. As such, Sanctuary will enforce a “practice” work from home day Wednesday (March 11th, 2020). We have an evolving WFH guide in our work manual, here. There’s some handy tips over here, too.
  • Working from Home means Home: we are strongly recommending that individuals who are working from home minimize their time in the general public. Working from a cafe or public space generally defeats the purpose of this policy.
  • Follow the general safety guidelines: We expect that you follow all of the general common sense around cleanliness and safety. Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, sterilize surfaces, avoid crowds, etc. Please do independent reading here — this post is not a safety guideline.
  • If you are showing symptoms: it is enforced that you work from home for two full weeks from the day you feel those symptoms. Following that two week period, reach out to Hugh for guidance on what to do next.
  • If you live with or come into contact with a high risk individual often: it is highly recommended that you work from home, and lower the risk that you pass the virus to that person.
  • If you’ve been in contact with a person who’s returned from a high risk country: it is enforced that you work from home for two full weeks from the day you feel those symptoms. Following that two week period, reach out to Hugh for guidance on what to do next.
  • Support Chinatown’s local businesses: our community & local businesses have taken a big hit. Please support local Chinese businesses if you can!

And a big thanks to Coinbase for sharing their policy & internal communications here — we took a lot of guidance from them: