Thursday 2 April, 2020

Coronavirus: In Cayman computers have become the new toilet paper

With the overwhelming demand for toilet paper being heavily documented across the local media, there has been one glaringly overlooked “essential” commodity. With workers in Cayman have been forced to work, play and school from home— computers have become the new toilet paper.

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred purchases of computer monitors, keyboards and webcams at unprecedented levels as overwhelming numbers have been forced to convert their domestic space into home offices, schools and primary social communities. 

With the most recent lockdown, most employees are working from home, and all schools have transitioned to online learning. This has caused a rush on home office equipment, faster computers and the requisite office supplies. 

“As a small, local business, business continuity is vital to our survival.  When I recognized that Cayman was not immune to the effects of this global pandemic (Covid-19), I reached out to our local office supplier, Office Supply, and organized laptops for all staff immediately,” explained Cynthia Hew, owner of Bon Vivant at Camana Bay.

When Loop contacted Office Supply Ltd, one of Cayman’s major suppliers of computers and home office equipment, General Manager Glen Merren confirmed that they had almost completely sold out of their computer stock.

“There are a lot of people working from home and there are returning students. Demand for home furniture, monitors, laptops and supplies is high,” Merren added.

According to Market Researcher, search term “Computer monitor” has risen 410 spots and “webcam” is up 1,297 places on the most widely used search terms list. Docking stations have become best-sellers in Amazon’s electronics categories.

“I knew that if there was going to be a mandatory shut-down of non-essential businesses, I would still need to be a resource for my staff, clients and our community,“ said Hew, of the importance of staying connected.

Many homes have also been simultaneously converted into home schools and home offices, with family members sharing workspace and with additional demands being placed on home wifi. This has also made it more difficult for multiple family members to share computers.

"As a mom and business owner, computers and connectivity have been integral in maintaining my children’s homeschooling and my communication with clients," said Dr DaSilva of Tropical Optical. "Each of us has our own computer and wifi has been more central to our daily lives than ever before."

Connectivity and online productivity tools such as Zoom, Skype and Google Docs have been invaluable.

“A simple tool has kept us all together, connected,” said Hew.  “While we are closed, I still have regular staff meetings with my team, client meetings via Zoom and our entire team is able to securely log in to our server remotely.  In a time of such uncertainty, something as small as a laptop brings some assurance that we can remain connected and play an active part in our community.”

Arthur Bogle, Chief Executive Officer of Bogle Insurance Brokers has found connectivity to be paramount for business continuity. "We are very fortunate that our computer system is cloud-based, which allows all our staff to continue to service our clients," he said. 

Jermaine Perkins, owner of Computer Geekz, IT support and repair centre believes that this transition will impact the way Cayman does business in the future.

“With companies setting up remote working environments, there have been warranted concerns around security and we have been working on this— the demand has increased. I believe that home offices are the wave of the future in Cayman. This adds to the model of the Cayman lifestyle. This might also be the answer to Cayman’s traffic problem.”

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