3 Ways Organizations Are Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak

These organizations are helping their people thrive amid the uncertainty of the new normal.

Shutterstock / SewCream
Shutterstock / SewCream

Across the globe, the coronavirus instills a sense of uncertainty: How long is this going to last? What happens if I get sick? Are my loved ones in danger? These fears create new challenges for not only for individuals, but for organizations as well. In response, many organizations — from nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies — are making big changes to the way they do business. From helping workers protect their health to helping them have an impact in their communities, here are some of the ways organizations are responding to this global pandemic. 

Crafting policies to protect their people — and their communities

In response to the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that those who can work from home do so. Rather than give employees “the option” to work from home based on their comfort levels, many workplaces are stepping up to the plate to heed the C.D.C.’s call. Google, for example, told all employees to work from home until April 10. “Our goal is to reduce the density of people in offices, which expert advice suggests may slow the spread of Covid-19 and reduce the burden on the local community and health resources,” a Google spokesperson said. In a memo shared with staff last week, according to a copy reviewed by the New York Times, Uber “urged employees to have empathy for one another, to make decisions based on data, and to restrict all nonessential travel until April.” Similarly, organizations like the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity have postponed events in order to not only protect their volunteers, but to prioritize the health of the communities they serve. 

Looking out for their most vulnerable workers 

Unlike salaried employees, hourly workers in many industries don’t often have the luxury of working from home. If they don’t show up for their shift, they don’t get paid. But at its Seattle-area offices, Microsoft continues to pay its cafeteria service and transportation workers their same hourly wages while the employees they serve work from home. Similarly, Starbucks will roll out “catastrophe pay” for employees for up to 14 days, regardless of whether they exhibit symptoms of Covid-19, Bloomberg reported. If any of the 1.5 million workers employed by Walmart contract the virus or are subjected to quarantine, they’ll receive up to two weeks of pay, and Trader Joe’s will reimburse sick workers for their time off, according to Business Insider

Helping people connect with others in a time of isolation

For those who are quarantined or are working remotely, loneliness can rank among top fears. But luckily, we can counter the effects of physical isolation with digital connection. For example, Americorps is working on hosting virtual gatherings, and one start-up, Teambuilding, launched a new division in less than 24 hours to offer virtual team-building activities to the wider market in this time of increased solitude. At Thrive, we’re utilizing Slack channels like “pets-of-thrive” to share photos of our furry friends, holding group meditation sessions employees can dial into, and taking a moment to check in with our teammates to see how they’re adjusting to this new normal. 

With additional reporting by Mallory Stratton.

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