By Eugene Signorini, Vice President, Product Strategy & Marketing, Skyllful
Although we’re living in uncertain and scary times, many of us in the technology industry realize how lucky we are since we can keep doing our jobs and keep our businesses running. We have digital tools and technologies that allow us to remain productive, even while working from home.
Other people unfortunately cannot. They don’t have the luxury of staying in the safety of their homes. Our healthcare professionals and first responders are literally on the front lines of this battle: doctors, nurses, clinicians, support staff, law enforcement and first responders, all have life-saving jobs to do.
But there’s another category of workers that are right behind them. At Skyllful, we’ve often called these workers “the invisible workforce”. They operate around us all day every day, yet most people don’t even know that they’re there – or the importance of what they do.
In these trying times, we’re now realizing how critical these workers are. In fact, they’ve been given a very specific designation right now: “essential workers”. If our healthcare professionals are on the frontlines, we can think of these other professionals as those keeping the supply line moving behind the frontlines.
These are truck drivers and delivery personnel; food and beverage retail workers; electric, gas, water, public works and other critical infrastructure technicians and workers; maintenance and repair personnel; custodial workers and industrial cleaners; and warehousing and logistics workers.
Without this “invisible workforce,” the situation we’re in would be far direr. They keep goods delivered to stores and stocked on shelves. They keep the lights on and water flowing. They keep our internet, phones and appliances working. We perhaps haven’t noticed the importance of the invisible workforce because most times we don’t need to think about what happens “behind the scenes”. Stuff just gets done; things just work – at least the vast majority of the time.
How can we help firstline workers amidst COVID-19?
So how can we all help them? First and foremost, social distancing. As has been widely emphasized, is critically important, and why those who can do it, should do it. Because we need to keep the people who cannot – those workers who still have jobs to do to keep the rest of us healthy, safe, supplied, and connected – as healthy as possible.
Secondly, don’t hoard. Over-buying items such as food and other household supplies strains retail and supply chain organizations and workers more than is necessary. Warehousing, logistics, consumer package goods, and retail organizations are all ramping up to continue to meet demand. We can make it easier by not panic buying.
We can also try to make the environments in which they work safer. In our marketing materials, we call these critical employees “hands-on workers”. They work outside in all conditions, or in stores and buildings and doing things with their hands and tools and equipment. The more we can keep those environments safe, the healthier these firstline workers will be. For example, if an installer or repair person needs to come to your house, sanitize the areas they’ll be working before they arrive. Additionally, give retail workers or delivery personnel their safe space as much as possible.
Here at Skyllful, we’ve always thought about the invisible workforce because they’ve always been our customers. But we’re thinking about them even more now. As for our part, we will keep doing what we’re doing, which is finding ways to help our customers’ firstline workers remain connected, productive and safe using digital and mobile technology.
We’re lucky we can continue to do our jobs from the relative comfort of our own homes. And we will continue our mission to help those who can’t work from home now and in the future.