From Shuttles to Masks: 8 Ways Businesses are Adapting to COVID-19

As COVID-19 has swept the world, drastic measures have been taken by many governments in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus — but governments are not the only organizations that have adapted to COVID-19. In fact, many businesses have had to get creative with their own responses. Although some businesses may have closed their doors forever, there are countless examples of businesses who are thriving and changing their business model or adapting to prioritize the health and safety of both their employees and their customers. Here are eight different examples of some of the adaptations that companies are making in an attempt to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, as well as the benefits of each.

Hand sanitizer

When people can’t go to pubs to buy beer, and local breweries can’t sell their beer, what are they to do? Some breweries are making hand sanitizer. With the rush on the grocery stores and the hoarding and price gouging of hand sanitizers, this move makes a lot of sense. COVID-19 is highly contagious and spread through contact of microscopic germs. Hand sanitizer is one of the solutions for this, and so it’s a key resource during this time of the pandemic. Some local breweries will even deliver hand sanitizer to your home for you.

Employee shuttles

Hospitals, construction companies, and even local governments have begun offering employee shuttles so that their workers can avoid public transportation. Although there are recommendations to allow for a six foot (two meter) distance between individuals, this can be difficult to maintain on subways and public buses. Additionally, individuals don’t always comply, leaving workers stuck. Providing employee shuttles allows organizations the ability to run ongoing transportation from key points for their workers. Other than shuttles for employees, some organizations are using shuttles to transport free food to seniors or other vulnerable populations, proving that there are several adapted uses for shuttles during this unique time of COVID-19.

The production of ventilators

Some companies are pivoting to create ventilators  in place of their regular items, such as vacuums, electronics, and the like. Ventilators are one of the items that are in short supply right now, as patients sometimes require them for treatment of COVID-19, especially when breathing becomes challenging or oxygen levels are at very low levels. While some companies are using ventilator designs that are similar to standard ventilators, others are innovating and taking this opportunity to create a new ventilator that is more efficient and compact. At a time when the purchase of home goods may decrease, the demand for ventilators is sure to remain strong for the indefinite future.

The remote work revolution

In light of the pandemic, many companies are switching to a remote work model. Some companies have done it from necessity (looking at you, teacher heroes, working from home), others have done it as an experimental adaptation of entire business models. Some examples are that therapists are conducting at home sessions over Zoom, organizations and companies are holding meetings and allowing their workers to accomplish their tasks from home. As this round of COVID-19 flare ups winds down, some companies have decided that they will allow their workers to work from home until the end of the year, or, in some cases, indefinitely.

A massive switch to online events

One of the things we’re most used to pre-pandemic are in-person events. However, with the limitations on gatherings, many companies and organizations have switched to holding their events online, from one-day events, to multi-day conventions, and everything in between. Large multinational-corporations have held successful live events during the time of COVID-19, and others announced the switch to an online event prior to in-person gatherings being curtailed. Many conventions have offered opportunities to attend a virtual version, and some celebrities have even pitched in on their own. Artists have gone live weekly to promote upcoming albums and raise money for organizations in need of funds. That’s how you take care of your communities!

Industry pivots

Some companies have taken their adaptations to the extreme. One example is a company where instead of tending to mold mitigation and helping buildings be restored after fires or floods, they are now helping hospitals and other similar environments with containing COVID-19 and cleaning up. What’s intriguing is that this company takes work that they were already doing (cleaning up) and applies that work to another, similar thing (cleaning). In fact, the service pivot has been so successful and so popular that the company has had to hire more staffers to meet the work demand of offices, hospitals, and even some drive-through franchises.

Virtual photography sessions

With so many celebratory and ritual moments canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, virtual photography has been a pivot that demonstrates just how creative photographers can be. Personal photography sessions allow one to reflect and consider what wants to be remembered, and what wants to be honored and celebrated. Just because graduations, weddings, and funerals have been canceled and postponed, doesn’t mean that those moments don’t still need to be held. One could argue that the need is even greater now, given the accompanying grief because of the lack of normalcy and ritual remembrance. Photography businesses have helped celebrate prom and family pictures and graduations, even without being in person. With modern technological advancements like instant image background removal, the photographs can now appear as if they were taken in-person despite the reality of being staged from afar.

Face mask production

Many different companies are getting in on helping make face masks, from fashion brands to the Amish. Face masks are pivotal in helping curtail the spread of COVID-19, and in the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that everyone wear one any time that they are outside in public, around other people. With such a range of companies pivoting to create masks, there are as many different ways of providing masks as there are companies! Some of the companies produce protective masks for health and other essential workers. Other companies have taken to making masks and selling them. Many fashion houses are engaging in this pivot. Finally, there are some brands that are making the masks available for free or for donation.

However your business chooses to respond to the COVID-19 situation, there are a myriad of ways to rethink and reimagine income streams and production. From figuring out ways to create virtual experiences to hiring shuttles to protect your employees from public transportation risks, there are so many different approaches to take. A crisis of this global magnitude is going to require ongoing awareness of shifts in safety, in transmission, in guidelines. Businesses would do well to watch for opportunities that allow them to continue operating, and to seize the moment to think creatively about how they’d like to be structured, moving forward. 

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