As more cases of COVID-19 are identified in the United States, companies are thinking about how they can keep functioning while also not turning into contamination zones. Some are asking employees to work remotely or from home if that is possible. Others, like Trader Joe’s, are giving their employees additional paid sick time. Recently, Microsoft came up with a plan—they will continue paying all vendor hourly service providers in Puget Sound and Northern California their regular wages, even if their work hours are reduced.
While this announcement refers specifically to Microsoft employees in a specific area, the company said it is currently exploring “how to best move forward in a similar way in other parts of the country and the world that are impacted by COVID-19.”
We are committed to making public health our top priority, while also addressing the economic and societal impact of COVID-19. https://t.co/MglqVdWRGg— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) March 6, 2020
Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post that, “we have reduced need in those regions for the on-site presence of many of the hourly workers who are vital to our daily operations, such as individuals who work for our vendors and staff our cafes, drive our shuttles, and support our on-site tech and audio-visual needs.”
“We recognize the hardship that lost work can mean for hourly employees. As a result, we’ve decided that Microsoft will continue to pay all our vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs,” he added.
“While the work to protect public health needs to speed up, the economy can’t afford to slow down. We’re committed as a company to making public health our first priority and doing what we can to address the economic and social impact of COVID-19. We appreciate that what’s affordable for a large employer may not be affordable for a small business, but we believe that large employers who can afford to take this type of step should consider doing so.”
“We’re actively pursuing additional steps around the world to help healthcare teams stay connected with telehealth solutions, schools and universities stay connected with students through virtual classrooms and online learning, and governments stay connected with their citizens with the latest guidance and resources made available online.”
The decision drew praise from employees and social media followers.
Thanks for doing this – as an employee, one of the first things I brought up when asked to work from home is whether or not the vendors that we work hand-in-hand with would get the same treatment. This quick response and empathy makes me proud to be a Microsoftie.
— Cassie (@Cassie_Hoef) March 6, 2020
As a partner, I was proud of working with Microsoft technologies at a professional level. Now I think I’m blessed and so much proud of working with such a moral company. Thank you very much for making all of us out there proud.
— Josué Yeray Julián (@JosueYeray) March 6, 2020
Showing empathy during turbulent times is the best form of leadership. Thank you Satya and @BradSmi
— Geoffrey Colon 🤓 (@djgeoffe) March 6, 2020
Other tech companies that have asked employees to work from home amidst COVID-19 concerns include Google, Lyft, and Square.