For Marcela Sapone, the decision to expand her company into food and essential deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic didn’t come without careful consideration for its thousands of workers.
For the past three years, Hello Alfred has partnered with residential buildings to provide a concierge-like service for residents. But on Wednesday, the company announced it is allowing people, regardless of what building they live in, to use its service for food and essential goods deliveries in more than 20 US cities.
Unlike many other delivery services, its workers, called “Alfreds,” are employees who receive health benefits, sick leave, and more. The company is providing workers with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, but it wanted to do more. That meant getting relevant information about coronavirus into the hands of its workers in an easy-to-use way to help protect them.
“Our number one priority as a business is to protect our people,” said Sapone, Hello Alfred cofounder and CEO, whose workers often shop multiple stores such as bodegas, wine shops and pharmacies to fulfill a customer’s order.
The company is one of hundreds that have partnered with StopCovid.co, a newly formed volunteer-led organization that is providing text-based training concerning hygiene and coronavirus preparedness. It uses technology from ESL Works, work-based training for frontline workers whose native language is not English delivered by text message.
According to Rachael Nemeth, who launched ESL Works about a year ago, the idea for StopCovid stemmed from a decision to push out coronavirus-related training to its existing customers, which are up and down the food supply chain.
“It became clear that there was no real solution out there for all essential workers. It was a no brainer to extend this to every business,” said Nemeth. Along with Dan Teran, former CEO and cofounder of workplace management startup Managed by Q, as well as alums of Managed by Q, StopCovid was born in a matter of days to help essential workers across the food service, grocery, delivery, retail, and facilities industries.
Organizations can sign up and distribute activation codes to workers who will be prompted to answer questions related to daily training topics such as “hand sanitizer dos and don’ts,” “handwashing how-to” and “Covid-19 basics.” The service is free of cost.
One question from “basics,” for example, prompts workers to select “true” or “false” in response to the statement: “Covid19 cannot survive on surfaces.” After workers respond, they are supplied with a relevant fact. “Early findings show that the Covid19 virus can survive on door handles, plastic-coated or laminated worktops and other surfaces.”
StopCovid says the training, which is available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese to date, is based on the latest guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to Teran, “we spoke to the largest grocery and delivery networks and were disappointed at the lack of interest in providing training to the people who are interfacing with their customers in the middle of a public health crisis.”
“It’s been interesting to see who has adopted it,” added Teran.
Delivery.com is among those utilizing the service. CEO Jed Kleckner told CNN Business that while its drivers and delivery workers don’t work for the company directly, but rather though its merchants or its independent operators, he felt a responsibility to ensure workers had access to the training.
“To say that, just because they don’t work for you that you don’t have a responsibility is to say you’re blind to how humanity works,” he said. “This is a generational event and I think we should all be figuring out ways to help.”