SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Terakeet, a search engine optimization company based in Armory Square, directed its 250 employees Thursday to work from home “until further notice” as a precaution against the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
No one at Terakeet has come down with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. But CEO Mac Cummings said he decided it would be “most prudent” to have employees work from home to minimize the chance of any getting the disease and spreading it to co-workers.
“We’re not trying to alarm people,” he said. “We’re trying to protect our employees.”
Employees were told of the decision after reporting to work Thursday morning and will be leaving the office after meetings with managers, he said.
Cummings said employees have the tools — laptops and access to cloud-based teleconferencing and document-sharing services — to continue serving clients from home.
“We don’t want people to think we’re shutting down,” he said. “It’s actually business as usual but in a temporarily remote environment.”
In an email to employees, the company said the work-from-home policy will “remain in effect until further notice, but at least through March 27, by which time we may better understand the implications of the virus in Central NY.”
“This is really uncharted territory,” said Cummings, the company’s co-founder. “I didn’t receive any training in college on what to do if there was a worldwide virus outbreak.”
As an SEO company, Terakeet helps its clients’ marketing by improving the prominence of their online content in search engines. About 220 of its employees work from its headquarters in Washington Station at 333 W. Washington St. Its other 30 employees work from other locations around the country.
Terakeet is not the first Syracuse company to direct its employees to work from home because of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic.
On Wednesday, The Post-Standard | syracuse.com closed its downtown office for cleaning and directed its employees to work remotely for the day. It took the action as a precaution after an employee attended a conference out of state where another attendee was later diagnosed with the virus. The news organization’s office in Merchants Commons reopened on Thursday.
Cummings said he expects other local companies to adopt work-from-home policies in the coming days.
“We think the real disruption will come from not being proactive,” he said.