On March 11, the COVID-19 virus was officially declared a pandemic by WHO. There’s so much uncertainty and fear for business owners, employees, freelancers… and everyone else.
However, amidst the anxiety-inducing news and daily worries that come with being in the middle of a global crisis, there are many companies stepping up to help. This article contains a list of companies that we’ve noticed doing good during the pandemic, from emergency employee stipends to remote work support.
These companies can help restore your faith in humanity and bring a much-needed smile to your face. We may be in the midst of a global pandemic, but we’re all in this together.
By helping spread kindness, individuals and companies can all do their part to help ease the pressures of the current coronavirus crisis.
The remote work surge
Countries all around the world are going on lockdown to try and stem the coronavirus outbreak. Globally, tens of millions of people have suddenly found themselves under various forms of quarantine as governments scramble to impose new coronavirus-related restrictions.
Meanwhile, other countries have more relaxed rules in place. The United Kingdom government has simply advised people to “stop all non-essential contact with others.” In the United States, fractured regulations make things more confusing as each state imposes their own rules in response to the coronavirus.
With different rules being implemented all around the world, it can be confusing to know what’s best to do. However, we’re sure we can all agree that each country is responding however they feel necessary to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of the virus.
Who went remote before it was cool?
In countries where lockdowns hadn’t yet been enforced, some companies made the decision to switch to a remote working business model. By moving to work-from-home, companies can help limit unnecessary travel and interaction which will then help to minimize employees’ risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
Encouraging remote work helps protect your team’s health amid this pandemic, and also does a world of good for employee wellbeing. You can give them more time to prepare, take care of their families (as many schools close), and show that you care and trust their ability to work from home.
Google, the popular search engine giants, asked all of their employees across the USA to work from home. They’ve also given similar guidance to their employees based elsewhere in the world. Along with allowing employees to work from home, Google also established a COVID-19 fund to enable temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave should they have symptoms of the virus. The software giant shows that they not only have their employees health at heart, but also the health of their wider network and extended workforce.
Other tech companies in Silicon Valley have also switched to a work-from-home model to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Facebook offered their employees free Portal video chat devices to allow them to continue work-related communications and team meetings whilst working from home.
Facebook also provided employees with a $1000 bonus to help them cope with issues stemming from the outbreak, and are eliminating performance reviews but honoring biannual bonuses by paying employees as though they all got ‘Exceeds Expectations’.
In early March, after strongly advising employees work from home, Twitter made it compulsory for all 4,900 employees around the world. Twitter will also be reimbursing employees, including hourly workers, for any expenses needed to set up their home offices.
In early March, fulfillment company Deliverr called for all employees across their three offices (San Francisco, Chicago, and Toronto) to work remotely. They provided a monthly work-from-home discretionary stipend for food, supplies, and “whatever helps you be safe and serve our customers.”
Although allowing employees to work from home seems like a nice gesture, it’s mostly occurred out of necessity. By giving employees the ability to work remotely, the business increases their chance of staying operable through this current crisis. Recognizing that allowing staff to work from home may not be enough, Shopify made plans to give each of their employees $1000 stipend to purchase any necessary office supplies while working from home. This gesture will hopefully ease their transition to remote work.
Although the Basecamp team was distributed even before the pandemic, they took early action in response to the virus outbreak. On March 13, CEO Jason Fried announced that they were giving all of their Basecamp employees a 4-day weekend to help them take care of personal business and get organized for the uncertain times ahead.
Moving to a remote business model isn’t feasible for all types of business. But for those who can work remotely, these companies set a great example of how they can easily transition from office to remote working to help minimize their impact during Covid-19.
Meanwhile, other companies have been using their skills, privileges, knowledge and abilities for the greater good.
Remote work guides
For many companies, moving to a work-from-home model means navigating unknown ground and can cause challenges for both employers and employees. To help companies settle into remote working, WebSummit took to Twitter and shared their 5-page remote working guide. Many companies are doing the same, and offering some A+ remote work resources.
P.S. We’ve also got a free guide on remote work here!
Free courses and tools
Understanding that many people may be struggling adjusting to recent changes in their home and work life, LinkedIn opened up sixteen of their learning courses for free. These courses center on remote working by providing tips on how to stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.
In a similar fashion, Google rolled out free access to their Google Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally. With everyone now working from home and avoiding unnecessary contact, video call software, like Google Meet and Zoom, has seen a spike in users.
But it’s not just the big companies who are sharing their resources for free during this time. This thread on Twitter highlights some of the great ways other companies, including small businesses and individuals, are offering their skills to support others.
This article also covers other companies offering their products and platforms for free, from financial advice to remote work tools.
From websites to help businesses sell their products online to free software, courses and funding, it’s refreshing to see organizations providing their services for free to help others.
If your company is new to the world of remote working, these guides and resources may help you find your feet in this new territory and stay a step ahead.
Supporting the most vulnerable
It’s vital to remember that not everyone is able to work from home during this outbreak. Notably, hospital staff are still expected to continue providing treatment and doing their part to contain the spread of the virus.
Many coffee shops and fast food outlets like Circle K are giving healthcare workers free coffee and other discounts to support them. Dominos Pizza also offered to give all healthcare workers free pizza on Friday 20 March. This spans further than the USA, with places in Australia and the UK doing the same.
JetBlue has offered free flights for certain medical professionals and volunteers flying to New York, Hertz is providing free car rentals to healthcare workers in New York City, and Japan-based SoftBank has donated 1.4 million N95 masks to New York State.
As cases of COVID-19 increase, people have started to stockpile groceries leaving shelves empty at grocery stores across the globe. Walmart responded by opening doors early for senior citizens. Grocery stores around the world have also released similar rules to provide dedicated shopping hours for the elderly community and healthcare workers workers. By having dedicated windows for the vulnerable community, stores hope to help alleviate the stress and anxiety for senior and vulnerable citizens.
Meeting the need
Private companies are taking time and resources to address the shortages happening around the world.
- Flexport was able to find masks in their network for hospitals.
- Many companies have pitched in to create homemade masks.
- Designer Christian Siriano is making face masks for medical personnel.
- 3D printing enthusiasts in Malaysia banded together to print face shields for frontliners.
- Dyson designed a ventilator in 10 days, and is making 15,000 of those ventilators.
- Zara has offered to make scrubs for hospitals in Spain.
- Ford, GE, and 3M are partnering to build ventilators, respirators, and face shields.
- Many companies are also participating in a “worldwide hackathon” wherein everyone is searching for faster, more efficient ways to produce medical equipment parts, reusable masks, and more.
There’s been a need for many other items. Project N95 works to identify demand, and gather data as efficiently as possible to assist in distribution efforts. They have a place to fill out a medical equipment request form, sign up as a government partner, and get registered as a supplier.
Hand sanitizers and disinfectants
Adapting to the pandemic, alcohol manufacturers and distilleries across the globe have shaken up their manufacturing process by swapping alcohol for hand sanitizer. As governments and health professionals stress the importance of hand-washing, hand soaps and sanitizers began flying off the shelves.
This shortage of hand sanitizer resulted in some resellers inflating their prices. To fight back against the low supply and inflated prices, many distilleries and alcohol producers took it upon themselves to start manufacturing hand sanitizer. Similarly, Facebook has also banned ads for hand sanitizer to try to combat price inflation.
- Philippine-based San Miguel Corp, makers of a popular local beer, began shifting their operations to create 70% ethyl alcohol.
- Brewdog, an independent craft ale brewer from Scotland, created a 60% hand sanitizer that they will be donating the hand sanitizers to local charities.
- Auckland-based craft distillery CarbonSix switched their entire production model over to solely making hand sanitizer. Initially, they started selling the hand sanitizers into Chemist Warehouse stores but have since said they now plan to only supply healthcare professionals in a bid to reduce their involvement in panic-buying and price inflation.
- In Alberta, distilleries are also changing production to hand sanitizer with one of them proclaiming their aim is to be able to supply the entire city with free hand sanitizer.
We applaud these alcohol manufacturers for being able to react to and fulfill consumer demands in times of need. Especially as many of them plan to donate the products instead of making a profit on them.
Fulfilling the need
Now that there’s some supply appearing from unexpected places, there’s a unique need to get it quickly to the people who need it most.
Commercial airlines around the world, including Korean Airlines, Delta Airlines, Qantas Airways, and American Airlines are shifting empty passenger planes to freight planes to delivery much-needed supplies.
In the USA, Deliverr has created an emergency supply fulfillment initiative that guarantees 2-day delivery anywhere within the USA and 1-day delivery in California. They’re offering this at-cost for non-profits and government agencies, as well as companies who want to donate supplies.
Ending on a lighter note: How to survive social distancing and self isolation
As businesses close their doors for the foreseeable future and governments advise everyone to stay at home, you’ll have to get inventive with things to do to keep you entertained at home. But staying home doesn’t need to be boring. Thanks to technology and good-old imagination, there’s hundreds of home activities you can do whilst self-isolating.
- This crowdsourced Google Doc of Quarantainment activities is overflowing with ideas to help you entertain and educate yourself and your family during isolation.
- Catch a free virtual show from The Metropolitan Opera.
- Visit some museums and zoos virtually.
- Many artists are performing live online for free, so you can tune in online.
- Here’s a giant list of 100 things to do during quarantine.
So, flatten that curve by staying at home and take your pick from hundreds of home activities such as home-based scavenger hunt, virtual video-chats, family games nights, learning something new or doing a spot of meditation, to name just a few activities from the list.
However you spend your time during COVID-19, please remember to follow government advice for social distancing and self-isolation. Stay safe, find ways to enjoy your time in self-isolation and help spread kindness during this time of uncertainty.