Article: How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?


How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?

Here are some of the practices adopted by companies around the world to minimize the impact of pandemic on people, work, and business.
How are organizations around the world responding to COVID-19?

Corporations around the world are grappling with how to best keep employees safe, while trying to ensure optimal utilization of their staff and business continuity— by asking employees to work-from-home, creating tag teams, etc.

According to a survey conducted by People Matters across India and South East Asia in March 2020, we found that only 38 percent of companies rated themselves as well or very well-prepared to support employees and their families and less than 50 percent of respondents have a cross-functional COVID-19 response team in place. 

In this (3/4) part of the guidebook by People Matters COVID-19: Responding to people & work implications - A step by step guide by People Matters, here are some of the practices adopted by companies around the world to minimize the impact of pandemic on people, work, and business.

Work from Home

  • Twitter tells Employees to Work from Home as Tech Firms React to Coronavirus. Twitter on March 2 became the first major U.S. corporation to strongly encourage its employees to work from home to avoid spreading coronavirus.

  • IBM, which nearly three years ago ended remote work for some U.S. employees, said Feb. 27 it had asked workers in coronavirus-affected areas to work from home "wherever possible." The guidance was issued for IBM workers in China, Japan, South Korea and Italy. The company also restricted travel to some locations and canceled its in-person participation in the RSA Conference on cybersecurity in San Francisco.

  • Hike has introduced Core Hours from 10.30a to 6 pm. During this period employees are expected to be plugged in and available on Slack and available to attend DSM, Meetings, Sprints, etc on Google Meet. Encouraging more discipline during remote working Hike has kept a company-wide lunch break between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM during which time there wouldn’t be any meetings scheduled so that employees can get a quick bite and get a mid-day breather.

Health & Wellness

  • Google blocked all external visitors from coming into some of its offices, including New York and the San Francisco Bay Area where its Silicon Valley headquarters are located. It also called off its flagship developers conference, called I/O, which was scheduled for May in Mountain View, Calif. The company said it would look for ways to "evolve" the event, raising the possibility of live streamed or remote sessions. 

  • Facebook on 6th March shut its London office and part of its Singapore base for "deep cleaning" after an employee in the Asian city state was diagnosed with coronavirus.

  • Nike announced March 1 it temporarily closed its corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in order to deep-clean the campus following the first US death from COVID-19 the day prior. 

  • Starting April 6, Starbucks employees can tap their pool of therapy sessions and meet with a counselor in person or via video chat, the company said. They will also have unlimited access to self-care apps through Lyra Health Inc., a software company that connects people with mental-health services through their employer. The company said it would begin to offer 20 free therapy sessions a year for all of its employees, including part-time workers, as part of a broader mental-health benefit plan. Starbucks was planning its new mental-health benefit rollout before the coronavirus outbreak, but said it would help quell some of the anxiety workers face regarding the pandemic.

  • Social distancing, ramping-up cleaning efforts, masks for healthcare workers, sales personnel, security, and front-office staff are among the measures that Hindustan Unilever has implemented

  • Several other companies and organizations, including the World Bank and the IMF, said they would replace in-person gatherings and meetings with virtual

Workplace Management & Travel

  • GoJek, Indonesian technology company, shares that they have set up a Crisis and Risk team and have created a separate COVID-19 command. The team has also formulated work related policy in the wake of a pandemic aligned with the Employment and Immigration law.
  • Ford Motor Company told employees March 3 that it is banning all non-essential air travel until at least March 27 because of concerns about the novel coronavirus. Ford had been restricting travel to and from China but has now extended the ban to all flights, both international and within the United States, out of concern for employees' health and safety. There may be exceptions, a Ford spokesperson said, but they will probably be rare.

  • UBS, the Swiss bank headquartered in Zurich, has begun implementing a split-operations policy in Switzerland this week as part of its coronavirus response. The firm has already implemented a similar policy for its employees across the Asia Pacific region.

  • Walmart said March 14 that beginning March 15 it will modify its hours for its more than 4,700 U.S. stores to help employees restock shelves overnight and clean stores.

  • Godrej Industries has asked employees who have travelled to China, Korea, Iran, Japan, and Italy in the last couple of weeks to notify their manager and human resource partner, and work from home for two weeks after returning to India.

  • Singapore based chemical company, Archroma has actively set up an exclusive communication strategy. The company has multiple response teams setup in each site / country to manage and actively adapt to the changing situation. The team is sharing best practices and collaterals from one site to the next so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Pay & Compensation

  • Starbucks said  it is offering “catastrophe pay” to U.S. baristas who have been exposed to the coronavirus. It will pay employees for up to 14 days if they have been diagnosed with, exposed to or been in close contact with someone with the coronavirus. Workers who may be considered higher risk because of underlying health conditions also are eligible with a doctor’s note. The company has implemented similar measures in China. 
  • United CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby will forgo their base salaries through at least June 30. United also said it was postponing "non-critical" projects requiring capital expenditures, got a $2 billion loan from a group of banks and expects to incur a first-quarter loss.

  • Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said in a message to employees that he would take a 10 percent pay cut and Delta said it is instituting a hiring freeze, taking some planes out of service and retiring older aircraft.

Managing Gig workforce

  • Volvo Car India is working closely with our dealers to ensure their facilities are hygienic. Guidelines to dealers include ensuring cars that visit workshops as well as dealer demo cars are properly cleaned before next use. In addition, all demo cars mandatorily have hand sanitizer.

  • Amazon is launching a $25 million relief fund for delivery drivers and seasonal workers amid the coronavirus outbreak, it announced March 11.  The aim is to help employees "that are under financial distress during this challenging time," the company said. This includes Amazon Flex drivers and its network of delivery service partners, who handle last-mile package deliveries, as well as seasonal employees, who help the company manage variation in customer demand during peak periods and holidays. Amazon will allow these employees to apply for grants that are equal to up to two weeks of pay if they're diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

  • Indian food-tech firm, Swiggy has arranged an awareness drive for their delivery partners. Additionally, the company will provide them with free medical consultation through partners. Plus, in cases where delivery associates have to self-quarantine, Swiggy will support them financially.


Read full story

Topics: C-Suite, #COVID-19

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?

People Matters Big Questions on Appraisals 2024: Serving or Sinking Employee Morale?

LinkedIn Live: 25th April, 4pm