Communications and workplace safety in the tech industry, Part 1
Demonstrating resilience and community-mindedness
Companies in the science, technology, and medical fields often have unusual or unique workplaces – think clean rooms, laboratories, and assembly lines. COVID-19 public safety guidelines, directed at the general population, do not cover such specific and sensitive environments, so these businesses have had to come up with their own creative policies to balance worker safety, business continuity, and, sometimes, protecting essential functions.
These unique conditions create special challenges and opportunities for PR and communications around workplace safety for businesses, which we will explore below.
Opportunities to demonstrate resilience and service
Media coverage has often featured tech companies that had already adopted remote work before the pandemic or quickly adapted to it this spring. However, many businesses in the science, technology, and medical world could not move (entirely) to remote work: experiments had to be monitored, hardware assembled, and patients seen.
To adapt to the pandemic, these companies adopted their own specialized workplace safety policies. For example, chip manufacturers began holding management meetings in clean rooms, warehouses and assembly lines spread workers out with new shifts and floor signage, and doctors and dentists developed case-by-case guidelines for when patients should come into offices or remove their masks during examinations.
For companies that find creative solutions to their specific workplace safety concerns, there are opportunities to gain positive publicity if you have a savvy communications team. The media is hungry for positive stories of adaptation and resilience.
Consider Lear Corp., a Silicon Valley automotive parts supplier in the Fortune 500. It quickly developed its own COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines and best practices based on the most successful policies developed across its multinational corporate empire. Lear Corp. created a handbook compiling the new policies, and then shared it publicly. The handbook was quickly downloaded thousands of times by other business leaders looking for sample policies to emulate, which generated positive press coverage featuring both Lear Corporation’s ingenuity and its service to the community.
The COVID-19 pandemic obviously threatens business models and supply chains, but engineers, scientists, and medical professionals are used to finding creative answers to complex problems. For the companies that tap into their creative strength to adapt to the pandemic quickly, there are major opportunities to gain recognition as industry leaders.