Crises Can Bring Out The Best in Us: 27 Ways Companies Are Stepping Up
Crises can bring out the best in us. It can be hard to believe that when headlines are crowded with toilet paper hoarders or raucous spring breakers under the impression that they're invincible, but it's true. A paper by the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center found that assumptions about people acting in their own best interest during a crisis are "fundamentally incorrect" and that "human beings…typically rise to the daunting challenges that disasters pose."
And that's exactly what we're seeing in terms of how individuals and companies are reaching out and taking care of their communities during this unprecedented nationwide response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Distilleries everywhere from Brooklyn to Bristol are converting their production lines to make hand sanitizer instead of spirits. Online tools companies are making their products free to use, including Adobe, which is giving students and teachers free at-home Creative Cloud access.
It's a great trend, and I'm excited to cover some more specific examples of it. But I first need to be clear that a nation dependent on the generosity of companies to provide human rights (like free childcare for working parents, guaranteed healthcare, paid time off to take care of sick family members, and more) and a safety net for its citizens is a nation that is failing.
But until we have a robust system of benefits available to individuals regardless of their employment status and a coherent federal response strategy to things like global pandemic, we've got to laud the companies and leaders that are digging into their own pockets to provide for their employees and their communities. Whether it's offering content for free to stuck-at-home viewers, repurposing factories to produce personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers, or expanding their available benefits to cover their team's needs—or a dozen other ways to help—companies are stepping up and reaching out to help.
Here's a non-exhaustive list (stuff is changing all the time!) of some cool things companies are doing to help us all get through this stressful period:
Free access to tools & programs
- Peloton is offering a free 90-day trial of its workout app. If your gym has closed, give it a try—you don't need a Peloton-brand bike to get started, as there are also classes for yoga and strength training, among others.
- Audible has made kid- and family-friendly audiobooks available for free for all users, whether they have an Audible account or not, at Stories.Audible.com.
- Smartsheet is offering free template sets for remote working and for building a coronavirus preparedness portal.
- Technology skills platform Pluralsight is making much of its conference library free until July 1, 2020.
- Database platform MongoDB is offering free database credits for developers working on COVID-19 health projects.
- Cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean created its Hub for Good to connect developers working on COVID-19 relief efforts and are providing up to $1,000, and a total of $100,000, in credits to individual not-for-profit projects
- Enterprise software delivery company CloudBees is offering its Rollout software for free to non-profits and NGOs helping to fight COVID-19.
- Collaboration software suite Quip is offering its productivity tools to teams working from home for free.
- Cloud-based software company New Relic is providing free access to their platform for 90 days to any organization engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts.
- Software company Elastic is offering free and open classes for their tools and programs.
Utilizing their expertise in the fight against COVID-19
- Supply chain management company Flexport is taking care of the logistics behind getting PPE to hospitals in need, arranging and paying for transit of donated supplies.
- Biotech company CSL Behring has offered to help governments by developing a hyperimmune serum to use as part of treatment against the virus.
- Laboratory equipment company Waters is donating gear and offering live science classes for schools that have implemented homeschooling.
- Hyperlocal social networking service Nextdoor is partnering with the National Governors Association to deliver state-specific resources to communities, as well as launching new product features like the Help Map where users can make themselves available to help neighbors, like by dropping off groceries.
Taking care of employees and their communities
- Microsoft will keep paying the hourly workers who take care of their campus and pledged $2.5 million to help the COVID-19 response in Seattle.
- Google is allowing all temporary staff and vendors to take paid sick leave if they're sick or under quarantine.
- American Express is donating $2 million in grants to organizations fighting the coronavirus, including the CDC and Feeding America. They have also partnered with Hilton to donate up to one million hotel rooms across the United States to frontline medical staff!
- The S&P Global Foundation allocated $2 million to support COVID-19 response efforts, including food banks and UNICEF. The Foundation also announced a second round of grants aimed at supporting the global response to COVID-19 to widen its impact globally and support small businesses in this critical time of need, bringing total contributions to USD $4M. Additionally, S&P Global has enhanced HR/benefits support for our employees and made COVID-19 research freely available to support market participants, including complimentary Panjiva supply chain data for government agencies and hospitals to track PPE (personal protective equipment).
- Morgan Stanley is donating $10 million to organizations combating the coronavirus, including Feeding America and the World Health Organization.
- Adobe is donating $3 million to nonprofits providing assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as offering its programs for free to students, which was already mentioned.
- Dell is donating money and technology to communities in China and the US hit by the coronavirus, including matching employees' donations to the CDC's Emergency Response Fund.
- T. Rowe Price is donating $500,000 to global and local organizations working to relieve the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Advertising platform VideoAmp is donating 50,000 meals to Feeding America.
- Construction project management software company Procore is enabling employees to work from home and creating a supportive environment to do so, providing free IT resources including hardware and software, virtual entertainment offerings like yoga and mindfulness classes, and implementing flexible hours for parents and caregivers.
- Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small businesses.
- Mortgage company Freddie Mac is waiving late fees and penalties and halting evictions until at least May 17, 2020, along with other relief options.
- Intuit is providing $8 million across donations to small businesses and nonprofits and loan payment deferrals of up to 8 weeks.
With those examples of leadership and generosity in mind, how can you help support your community today?
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
A five-step framework for addressing systematic racism at work
The world has changed in the past few weeks.
We're watching corporations and organizations across the world come out in support of Black lives in droves. Many of those organizations are doing so for the first time in their history.
Living in the midst of a pandemic has brought about a whole host of changes and challenges for workplaces and employees. One of the most notable? Virtual interviewing. With most on-site interviews on hold for the foreseeable future, it's important that you be prepared to make a great first impression—virtually.
Women Founders & CEOs Share Their Tips
If you're anxious about looking for a new job right now, you're not alone. We've talked before about how you can land a job in the midst of COVID-19, but today we wanted to share advice from some of the experts who spoke at our inaugural Diversity Reboot Summit.