The COVID-19 crisis has forced countless organisations and businesses into new ways of working, with many pivoting simply to ensure their continued existence. Alongside this, a great many have been able to adapt their key activities to offer some support to others. From Sainsbury’s dedicated opening hours for vulnerable people and keyworkers, to AstraZeneca’s donation of 9 million face masks when personal protective equipment (PPE) is a key concern from healthcare professionals all across the country, you’ll no doubt have read or heard about some of the bigger organisations doing their bit to lend a hand.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re they only ones playing their part. Amid calls for tech giants to contribute funding to save endangered newspapers and coronavirus efforts, as well as accusations of them using the situation to dodge tax, there are more positive stories coming out of the sector. Importantly, among the growing list of businesses offering something a little different in these difficult and unusual times there is a growing of lesser-known tech companies which are all making a contribution to wider efforts to improve the situation for others. Below are just some of them (in no particular order):
Clear messaging has arguably never been as important as it is at this moment in time, especially for businesses looking to retain the loyalty of their customers. To help in this effort, Recite Me, a tech company supporting people online with assistive technology, is offering organisations a free accessible COVID-19 landing page enabling the public to read understand a company’s position during the crisis. As They put it, “When information is vital, it is vital that information is accessible for all… No cost, no agenda just accessibility for all.”
One type of business which has particularly suffered as a result of lockdown measures are small, independent cafes and restaurants. In an effort to aid them through this difficult time, and in addition to waiving subscription fees for a month, the small business-focussed tech company Stampapp has also launched Stampaid. The free service enables small business customers to purchase goods in advance for redeeming at a later date. A voucher for 10 coffees, anyone?
With schools across the country closed for all but the children of key workers, home schooling has fast become a necessity for the younger generation. Online presentation specialists Hypersay have stepped in to help educators facing unprecedented challenges by giving free credits to schools and universities, enabling them to deliver remote live presentations complete with slides and interactions for up to 200 students.
Healthcare workers are facing some of the toughest times they are ever likely to, working longer hours, often with limited PPE, in order to care for the thousands of people who have contracted COVID-19. As a result, there is understandable concern for their wellbeing, both physical and mental. To help support the NHS workforce during this time, workplace wellness platform Unmind has offered free access to its digital resources for all NHS staff. The hope is it will encourage individuals to proactively take steps to look after their mental health both during the crisis and after. Staff can gain access using their NHS email at: nhs.unmind.com/signup.
With a remote and scattered workforce now the norm as a result of widespread lockdown measures being taken, keeping employees engaged is a real challenge for business leaders, as is ensuring their companies take positives from the experience. Having worked with some of the world’s biggest companies to drive innovation using employee ideas, London tech firm Sideways 6 have put their experience to good use by releasing their COVID-19 Employee Ideas Campaign Lookbook. The free online document showcases their top ten ideas to engage employees and crowdsource ideas in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and beyond in a bid to inspire employees to share their perspective and leaders to listen.
One of the other ways remote working has impacted organisations is preventing them holding traditional face-to-face meetings, whether that is with staff members, customers or other key stakeholders. This has proven especially true in the third sector, where charities are predicted to lose as much as £4bn in lost fundraising revenue during the crisis. To help rectify this situation, specialists in online audience engagement streamGO are offering a fully supported webinar to a charity or not-for-profit organisation each month. In a nice touch, these organisations can be nominated by the general public, too.
With a wide range of sectors making the most of the Government’s offer to cover up to 80% of workers’ wages, thousands of employees have been placed on furlough until business can resume. To help companies and individuals make the most of the downtime, Learnerbly are giving companies with more than 20 employees free access to their platform, providing individuals with learning and development content and opportunities including podcasts, books, coaches and online courses. The offer will continue to run for the duration of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
With many GP surgeries either closed or offering limited appointments to members of the public, more and more people are moving online to speak to health professionals. As well as acting as a reliable source of health-related information in the wake of COVID-19, online Vala Health are further doing their bit by offering people their first online GP appointment for free.