COVID-19: How the World’s Biggest Companies Are Handling It and What We Can Learn From Them

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COVID-19 is forcing businesses all over the globe to update their video conferencing software accounts as workers stay home in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. How are the world’s biggest companies handling their workforce during the coronavirus crisis, and what can we learn from them? From free pizza to wage raises, read on to find out.

Google: The Bold Approach

Google was one of the first large North American firms to ask all of its 100,000 plus employees to stay home. CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent an email to all employees explaining that the decision was just one part of the company’s efforts to help slow the global spread of the disease. The company is also building a website designed to help Americans understand their symptoms and find a testing center in their neighborhood. Google established a 24-hour tech support and resource center to help its workers stay informed and productive during the self-isolation period. Casual Google workers are also eligible for paid sick leave during the quarantine period. 

Buffer: The Do Nothing Approach

On the other hand, social media scheduling company, Buffer, hasn’t made any changes. That’s because the startup is already fully remote. It has more than 80 employees in over 14 countries and no central office. Buffer is really transparent about the efforts it makes to make its employees feel connected, supported, and cared for while working from wherever. Read more about the inspiring remote work culture at Buffer here.

Microsoft and LuLuLemon: The Compassionate Approach

Microsoft, already known for its generous philanthropic work, has committed to keeping paying its hourly workers even when they can’t attend work on any of its Microsoft campuses. Other big US companies are following suit. Athletic clothes retailer, LuLuLemon, will shut its stores in North America and Europe for the next two weeks. Their employees will be paid for all of the hours they were scheduled to work. 

LinkedIn: The Generous Approach

LinkedIn is offering 16 of its learning courses for free. Make the most of your saved commute time by taking advantage of this generous offer. The courses will teach you how to stay productive when you’re out of the office, give tips on managing virtual meetings and offer insights into work-life balance under lockdown.  

Amazon is thriving as people avoid heading outside. The notoriously stingy employer announced it is giving its workers a raise as it employs 100, 000 new people to cover the demand.

Charter: The Flexible Approach

Charter and several other large telecommunications companies have pledged to waive late fees and will not terminate contracts during the pandemic. AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Sonic, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all committed to helping their customers stay connected during the pandemic.

Zoom: The Open Door Approach

Zoom has announced its services will be made free for all schools in Japan, Italy and the U.S as educational facilities send students home. Adobe is opening access to its Cloud Creative Suite for students at home from Kindergarten to Grade 12 if their institution already has a subscription for no extra cost.

Travel Companies: The Voucher Approach

No doubt, the travel industry is among the worst hit by the global lockdown. But many companies, both big and small, are acting with generosity and understanding. Australian Airline, Qantas, is making it easy for people to cancel flights and receive a travel voucher, while Etihad is offering free changes to bookings affected by travel bans. TravelPerk is moving staff from their sales team to their support team so they can assist people’s travel changes as quickly as possible. 

&Pizza: The Unlimited Approach

&Pizza is giving free and unlimited pizza to all its employees and their immediate family during the self-isolation period. Hospital workers can also grab a pizza for free when they show their ID. Workers making the free pizzas will get $1 more per hour. Any &Pizza employees showing COVID-19 symptoms are asked to stay at home will be covered by 14 days of “health and safety pay.”

Starbucks: The Psychological Approach

Starbucks is teaming up with Lyra Health to offer its employees 20 free in-person or video sessions every year for partners and each of their eligible family members, online scheduling with most providers available within two weeks, an. Online sessions will be available as soon as possible for workers and their eligible family members. 

Uber: The Novel Approach

Uber, who has battled in court to keep its workers from being recognized as employees and therefore ineligible for sick leave – will pay drivers benefits for 14 days if they contract the coronavirus or need to self-isolate.

Armani: The Creative Approach

Giorgio Armani has donated $1.43 million dollars to four hospitals in Rome and Milan, to boost health services. Dolce and Gabbana are collaborating with Humanitas University to fund a coronavirus research project. The fashion brand was already working with the university on other projects and hopes to significantly push the global efforts towards therapeutic interventions against the Coronavirus. 

Banks: The Responsible Approach

A cartel of banks and lenders including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street, and Wells Fargo have halted stock buybacks for the 2nd quarter in a bid to maintain solvency and liquidity for customers during the outbreak.

Listen and Learn

The Coronavirus is teaching us that we are much more adaptable, resilient, and agile than we might have imagined. How is your company handling the crisis? We want to hear about your work-from-home experience. Get in touch with us on Facebook or LinkedIn. Stay safe out there. Take care of your communities, and keep washing those hands!

Jessica Miley
Jessica Miley
Jess Miley is a freelance blogger and founder of Ways Art Residency. She is excited about the good, the bad and the ugly of AI and its effect on how we work. Ask her for a new podcast recommendation.

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