Whether it's devising ingenious new ways to keep locked-down staff happy and healthy, or equipping frontline workers, COVID-19 researchers or NHS patients with essential tech and PPE, the UK channel is chock-full of examples of firms that have stepped up in a crisis.
As an upcoming episode of CRN Deskflix will explore, the power of the channel has never been more evident.
Here we round up seven firms in our market that are going above and beyond in their efforts to help their staff, the NHS and wider society get through these tough times.
1) Distribution boss on the decks
As a former DJ, Westcon UK & Ireland MD Antony Byford said it was a "no-brainer" to dust down his decks in an effort to boost staff morale during the lockdown.
Every Friday from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, Byford spins nineties and naughties floor fillers under the pseudonym ‘Tony B' (check out a snippet below).
"I used to DJ in south London for a number of years, and music always lifts the spirits," he told CRN.
"Next week we have pulled together for a pub quiz of around 200 of us, and the music resumes the week after that. Mid-week, there'll be a wine-tasting session, as we have a sommelier in the team. There's plenty of activity to keep the troops going in these tough times."
2) Concocting a COVID-19 cure
Having dedicated spare compute capacity to a project aimed at finding a cure for COVID-19, Liverpool-based Aabyss is urging other IT solutions providers to follow suit.
Talking to CRN, Aabyss chief executive Andrew Allen (pictured) said that resellers and MSPs are in a unique position to throw their weight behind [email protected], a distributed computing project that harnesses unused compute power to aid research efforts into the virus.
Aabyss is drawing on spare server capacity in three datacentres where it owns rackspace, he explained.
"We've been involved in this for about two weeks and already we're in the top ten per cent of contributors globally," he said.
"If you've got clients who are now either downsizing or retreating, and you might have spare compute resource - do something with it. We can all do something - everyone can play a part."
Andrews said he was motivated to get involved partly by the opportunity to bring his staff together during lockdown.
"It breaks my heart that everyone on the team is so disparate, as we have such a great culture. This is just a small thing we could do together," he said.
3) Teabag tag
Distology CEO Hayley Roberts is aiming to help the channel "smash" lockdown via a new viral charity-based challenge.
Having pursuaded its staff to film themselves making tea in various creative ways (see below), Distology is now encouraging its partners and the wider channel to make similar videos. The idea is to donate money to charity afterwards, and then nominate other businesses to take on the challenge.
"Using the #distologyteaboxchallenge or if preferred #theteaboxchallenge at least two of our vendors and partners are now working on their videos and this is open to all vendors, partners and distributors," Roberts told CRN.
"It just feels like we can all make a huge difference doing something fun, bring an industry together and keep our spirits up."
4) Printed shields for shopkeepers
As the outcry over PPE shortages continues to grow, an employee of a Yorkshire cloud firm has taken it upon himself to 3D-print face guards for "forgotten" key workers such as shopkeepers.
Craig Holmes (pictured) used the money from a cancelled cruise to buy two 3D printers and is now manufacturing around 300 units a month after receiving backing from his employer, Elland-based tech supplier Vapour Cloud.
"I decided to try and do my bit after visiting my local village shop and talking to one of the ladies there, who was worried to still be working," explained Holmes, who is Vapour's head of cloud.
"It's no surprise - given my job - that I love tech, so when our cruise was cancelled due to COVID-19, the printers seemed the perfect thing to spend the money on. With the help of Vapour, we're now able to support some of the unsung heroes during all of this."
5) ER, phone home
One reseller going above and beyond during the crisis is mobile security specialist Bridgeway Security, whose staff are using their spare time to equip NHS patients with secure mobile devices so that they can talk to loved ones during the lockdown.
Bridgeway is on the hunt for surplus Apple iOS and Android devices that it can reprovision under the free scheme, dubbed ‘Phones for patients'. Anyone with surplus devices (or cables and chargers) should visit the Phones for patients homepage, or email [email protected] to find out more.
Cambridge-based Bridgeway has already secured donations of nearly 4,000 devices, MD Jason Holloway (pictured) told CRN.
"We recognise the devastating impact that being cut off from loved ones during such a challenging time has on hospital patients and care home residents across the UK," he said. "We wanted to harness the skills and knowledge the company has to help alleviate this, and the whole team at Bridgeway is dedicating their work and spare time to get donated devices prepared and ready for use."
6) The PPE matchmaker
Tech entrepreneur Alan Cantwell has spent recent weeks setting up a non-profit group connecting the US medical community with alternative PPE.
The former Selection Services and Misco boss, who is currently locked down in Florida, helped set up 'Protect Covid staff' after his brother received a cry for help four weeks ago from an anaesthesiologist friend at New York medical centre, NYU Langone. Cantwell said his brother enlisted him for his knowledge of supply chains and ability to "get stuff done".
"She called my brother - who is a partner at Oliver Wyman - saying she'd seen a design for something called an Aerobox (pictured, left) and that it looked brilliant. NYU at the time was just approaching its battlezone stage and she said ‘we need these'," he expalined.
"We are a matchmaking organisation. We are not making a penny out of it but just letting the medical community know these alternative PPE products exist. There are two products: the box and the shield. They are not designed to replace the N95 masks but to act as an extra barrier."
Cantwell added that he is looking around for his next acquisition in the tech space.
"This has overtaken our searches [for businesses], but we'll find something," he said.
7) Lockdown larks
All firms are trying to find a way to keep staff happy and motivated during the lockdown, not least Computacenter, whose Enterpise sector director, Clare Parry-Jones, posted this video of her team lip-syncing along to Pharrell Williams' Happy.
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