We really are in this together

By James Kelliher, Chief Executive

Brands the world over are putting corporate social responsibility to the fore and using their influence to help reinforce the messaging around the Corona crisis. From factual messages about C-19 on sites like YouTube, Google and Spotify to stem the tide of misinformation, to Nike and its “Play inside, play for the world” adverts, and Audi separating the rings of its logo to show social distancing.

Lending a hand

It doesn’t stop with messaging. A number of new initiatives have sprung up seemingly overnight, including Meals for the NHS, a fast-expanding service in London that is raising money and using local restaurants to feed NHS staff for free. Co-founded by tech entrepreneur Alick Varma, the initiative has already raised more than £200,000 and is delivering hot meals to 17 hospitals across London.

Then there’s the unlikely parallel between hand sanitiser and enjoying a cocktail after work;  European breweries and distilleries, including BrewDog and Leith Gin are using their production sites to manufacture hand sanitiser to help markets cope with demand.

Global brands like Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook and Microsoft have donated millions of dollars, and vital equipment such as testing kits and protective gear.

Support across the board

While kindness, altruism and community spirit are certainly driving this social good, it is all being supported and facilitated in many ways by technology. Existing platforms and software are adapting to the new state of normal and trying to make remote working and remote teaching as effective as possible.

Zoom, for example, is helping remote learning by removing the 40-minute meeting limit on the free version of its accounts for schools in the US. It’s also created a list of tips to help teachers get the most out of the features of the software.

In the UK, Vodafone is offering 500,000 of its pay monthly customers 30 days of unlimited data, Virgin is giving some users an extra 10GB of data. With many worried about connectivity with the massive surge of home workers, Netflix and YouTube are reducing streaming quality to reduce the load on the network.

We’re seeing this same approach from our clients. Cyber security firm Bridewell Consulting is offering free IT health checks to organisations in healthcare and critical sectors, while ManageEngine is offering free, fully functional licences for its Secure Remote Access Toolkit that can help IT teams run their infrastructure and data centre operations safely.

Tech for good

Of course, there is more being done than just helping us live and work as “normal” as possible. Tech giants and innovators, like Dyson, Tesla, Airbus and Siemens, are working to manufacture and deliver thousands of ventilators to the NHS. Mercedes F1, working with engineers and clinicians from University College London, has even developed a breathing aid that can help patients in wards without them having to go to intensive care, freeing up resources while delivering the care they need. The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices provide a middle ground between an oxygen mask and full ventilation, with the latter requiring sedation and an invasive procedure.

Moving forward

This cohesion in trying times shows what we’re capable of as communities, as nations and most of all, as human beings. The examples of individuals, communities and brands working together to do good are almost endless and will certainly continue.

This new operating environment could well be the new norm for business. But importantly, moving forward it will be about achieving a balance between what works for society and what works for business.

For now, with all this good will and technology in support, it’s gratifying to know that big or small, businesses are making a difference.