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The Virus is Revealing a More Humane Side of American Business

When the current administration issued guidelines for conduct during the outbreak, those that have not yet fully absorbed the tenets of “social distancing” took it as a cue to start. Businesses, big and small, were subsequently left teetering on the edge between viability and collapse. Despite glaring disadvantages, many companies are not willing to settle, instead showing their humane side by more equitably distributing resources and increasing service accessibility. Among the trendsetters are both multimillion-dollar companies and employees of small establishments who are realizing that the best way to continue operations is to offer help where needed. It’s a win-win situation if companies are indeed able to extend a helping hand to patrons; by doing so, they are also laying out a framework for their own business model post-virus and post-recession, one that is rooted in ideals of corporate social responsibility and makes even the biggest conglomerates seem a little more personable.

Image via Unsplash

Solidcore, a fitness studio specializing in 50-minute workouts on a reformer machine, recently released a free workout video that anyone can view via Youtube, promising a series of more. Usually considered a boutique workout, based on its steep prices and personalized customer service (you’re greeted by name, given a wipe after the class, and need a studio code to unlock the door), Solidcore is realizing that converting to an accessible approach is the name of the game, at least until it becomes okay again to sweat while hamstring curling within a foot of someone else. 

Following a similar philosophy during a “customer recession,” yogis like Erik Hinton of Brooklyn’s Usha Veda Yoga are taking advantage of livestream platforms and offering daily yoga classes to anyone who might need a socially-acceptable way to release tension. Hinton also uses corporate creativity in combining “chaturangas” and charity, as the goal of his practices is to raise money for Direct Relief, an organization helping medical personnel and hospitals worldwide get equipment and protection to take in more virus cases.

Virtual offerings like these help “open the gates” guarding companies and practices that have been traditionally perceived to service only the upper echelons of society. Entering the public domain, so to say, such companies get meager remuneration for their efforts, but ultimately prove themselves favorable, as they are able to adapt quickly to current demands. There’s truly little corporate self-interest involved in recording a workout video to share to the web, unless future clientele expansion counts (which might be a very plausible outcome for companies that demonstrate capability in stepping up.)

Image via PR Newswire

Ingenuity in the business world during COVID-19 is not limited to workout classes, however. At a time when many Americans are rechanneling finances towards areas of more immediate need, critical services like power must remain a “no questions asked” guarantee. Dominion Energy, a utility company that supplies electricity to Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, has recently issued a promise to suspend all service disconnections related to nonpayment.

Similar efforts include the waiving of late fees by phone service providers like Verizon and free access to hot spots by the cable company Comcast. Particularly notable are the actions taken by supermarket chains around the world to ensure elderly consumers have sufficient opportunities to run grocery errands without subjecting themselves to large crowds.

Dollar General, Australia-based grocery store Woolworths, and British supermarket chain Iceland have all undertaken measures to ensure their locations open an hour early and are dedicated exclusively to the older population for that hour. 

Company-wide action plans for continuous customer support are crucial, now more than ever. In the short-term, they help businesses build trust with clients and establish themselves as willing assistants in the current struggle for sufficient resources and overall well-being. If successful at expanding their community outreach now, companies might be convinced that they would be able to replicate such steps in future times of desperate need or for an even wider segment of the population.

Ultimately, today’s unsettling social and economic climate is leading the corporate world beyond actions fueled by “Return on Investment” analysis and into a noble form of altruism: seeking nothing in return and acting with no hidden agenda. If our very own corporate giants can do this, then surely there’s even more kindness to go around from everyday citizens in the face of COVID-19.

Photo: Headway via Unsplash

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