April 15, 2020

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During COVID-19, Tech Companies Prioritize Their Workers

By
TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore

As COVID-19 continues to change the way we live, the technology industry is doing important work to support medical professionals on the front lines across the country. At the same time, the technology industry is prioritizing its own workers as they carry out critical work. Many in tech have been deemed essential workers. They continue to report to work to ensure food and household staples are packaged and delivered to vulnerable communities and those who are self-isolating, and to transport medical workers to and from their jobs.

None of this would be possible without an internal focus on safety. At Amazon, where workers are fulfilling orders for food and other necessities, this includes ensuring access to masks, regular temperature checks, and two weeks of pay for workers in quarantine or diagnosed with COVID-19. Amazon increased the base pay for hourly workers who work in delivery and operations. The company has also dedicated a team to building testing capacity with the hope that some employees can be tested soon.

This week, Amazon announced it has fulfilled its promise to hire an additional 100,000 employees and now anticipates spending over $500 million on increased pay. Not only is the company providing a safe work environment, they are also hiring new employees during a time of economic uncertainty.

At rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber, masks, disinfectants, and gloves are available for drivers. Similarly, personal protective equipment is being made available to delivery people. Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash, and Grubhub have all also introduced contact-free delivery and relief funds, so if their workers do become sick from COVID-19, they can still access funds and focus on their health.

Likewise, technology companies were leaders on moving their employees to telework. Apple, Box, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and many others worked quickly to enable their employees to work from home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. And, through features like free access to video conferencing, increased hotspot data, and higher internet speeds for low-income households, tech companies have been essential in empowering the American workforce to continue their jobs remotely.

The technology industry has stepped up to help the United States confront the COVID-19 pandemic in countless other ways. Bloom Energy is refurbishing ventilators. Apple is producing face shields and has already sourced millions of masks. Smile Direct Club and HP are using their 3D printing operations to create medical supplies and personal protective equipment. Honeywell used its facilities to produce N-95 masks. Likewise, General Motors is manufacturing ventilators. Cisco donated teleconferencing equipment to hospitals.

Multiple companies are also supporting their communities through help to small businesses, providing students with devices for remote education, and many other efforts. This is just a sampling of the response from the tech industry. During these challenging times, tech is doing what it does best -- solving problems with innovative solutions.

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