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How Leading Companies Are Addressing COVID-19

MAR 20, 2020

We all want to know: how are other companies dealing with this unprecedented situation? Inspire is committed to providing answers and will continue to share more as further information becomes available. 

We work with companies large and small—from Fortune 500 to nimble start-ups and everyone in between. We see a wide range of organizations, departments, work structures, and employer relationships. We also monitor the landscape constantly for examples from U.S and global companies who have already put measures in place in response to COVID-19.

We are sharing this round up of best and brightest ideas.  We will keep a running list that we encourage you to contribute to on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, tagged as #ManagingThroughCovid.

Examples from the field

We are looking beyond using Purell, to substantial policies and procedures companies are rolling out, with or without an established best practice to fall back on.

1. Take care of your employees

Layoffs have started and some may be inevitable. Marriott International just announced they are placing more than 10,000 employees on furlough and the hospitality industry, especially, is bound to see more coming soon. But other companies are committing to provide for their employees as long as possible—even at the expense of some short-term profits.

Apple has adjusted its paid leave policy to account for caregivers who may not be sick themselves, but have dependents in quarantine or home while schools are closed.

Google is paying hourly workers, for example cafeteria staff, for hours they would have worked, but are unable to do so from home. Microsoft has made the same commitment.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., will provide up to two weeks pay for anyone who requires quarantine.

Starbucks is offering “catastrophe pay” of up to two weeks to workers who have been diagnosed with, exposed to, or in close contact to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

2. Provide health (and more) resources

There is no denying that COVID-19 is the topic on everyone’s mind. Even in the workplace, whether at the office or remote, we can’t expect our teams to be 100% work-focused. Modern companies are increasingly focused on cultivating a human-centric culture, and now it’s time to walk-the-walk. Help equip your people with as much knowledge and resources as you can.

New York Hotel Trades Council with the Hotel Association of New York City are offering free COVID-19 testing at the employer-funded plan’s health centers for 40,000 employees and 50,000 of their relatives.

Starbucks has extended its mental health benefits for employees and their families to offer more sessions during this unquestionably stressful and emotionally trying time.

At Inspire, we are constantly collecting resources and weeding through what will be the most helpful to our team of experts. Here is a list that we sent out just this week, targeted to the concerns we hear from our team most frequently as we stay continuously connected.


And, we picked up some great ideas on our Inspire Facebook page about how the Union of Reform Judaism is supporting their staff (about 300 people). They are hosting video conference meetings throughout the day that include: morning departmental check-ins; daily coffee chats (“URJ Team Time”) at 2:00 pm; Friday afternoon social gatherings; support groups for parents with young children; and even 30-minute storytimes for kids several days per week.

3. Enhance security and confidentiality policies

With more people working from home—many in the close company of a partner and children— companies must consider new cybersecurity and confidentiality policies and procedures as well as basic accommodations to meet their staff needs for working remotely.

Chicago-based insurance startup Clearcover has offered to pay for the cost to increase the speed of its employees’ home internet plans.

Inspire is an agile company with a fully distributed workforce, so working remotely is nothing new to us. What is different, though, is how many of us are now working with kids and/or a partner in the next room. Our clients’ confidentiality is a top concern for us, so we have issued the following guidelines for our team of experts:

  • Inspire and client voice and video calls should be conducted through headphones and not on speaker unless in a secure, confidential space. (i.e. a room with a door)
  • When screen sharing, be careful to make sure no personal or confidential content is visible.
  • Enable your lock screen and screen saver when you walk away from your device. (Apple or Microsoft Users)
  • Avoid printing confidential information whenever possible.
  • Paper-based files and documents should be placed in folders and/or drawers.
  • Shred any confidential printed material properly.
  • Desk/ workspace should be cleared at the end of working time to keep information confidential and not left visible in share areas (i.e. countertops, kitchen/dining tables, or shared desks)

Enforce physical distancing

While more companies are moving to remote working arrangements, for some, it just isn’t feasible at this time. Companies still operating out of shared workspaces must make accommodations to limit the risk of their employees exposing each other to COVID-19. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated offices across the state limit non-essential staff occupancy to 50% and it’s likely other states and municipalities will follow similar measures soon.

Goldman Sachs has divided staff into a blue team and white team so only 50% will be present at any given time.

JP Morgan Chase has moved significant portions of its sales and trading staff away from their Manhattan headquarters, to offices in New Jersey and Brooklyn. In their Manhattan office, they are restricting employees’ access to the floor where their primary office is located.

Deutsche Bank has divided sales and trading teams, while limiting socialization among coworkers.

Additional Examples

Our list focuses on the employer response. You may also find inspiration from what Forbes’ calls “Coronavirus Champions” as well as this updated list of company examples from SHRM.