When we surveyed 5,000 SMB decision makers in September 2020, keeping employees healthy and safe while reopening in-person operations was reported as the number one concern amongst employer firms in the next 12 months. But safely returning to work is a difficult undertaking when you can’t get the protective supplies you need in a timely manner.
There has been a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. You might remember reading articles with jarring headlines like “The mask shortage is forcing health workers to disregard basic coronavirus infection control,” or “Food worker advocates say lack of PPE endangering nation’s food supply.” Maybe you heard about doctors and nurses decontaminating single-use PPE for reuse. The PPE shortage took the US by storm and forced every organization to rethink these essential products we often took for granted.
The US relies upon other countries to manufacture and ship PPE. Sophisticated supply chains are in place to ensure hospitals and healthcare systems receive the correct amount of PPE, as needed. But as global supply chains experienced massive disruptions, there was a considerable mismatch in supply and demand. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that the “rising demand, panic buying, hoarding, and misuse [caused] severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment.” The global supply chain was in complete disarray, so prices surged and supplies took months to reach their final destination.
Companies large and small worked together and pivoted to help address this PPE shortage — and Alibaba.com is proud to have been a key partner. When CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff heard that the University of California San Francisco, a major medical provider in the Bay area, was running dangerously low on PPE, he decided to do something about it. He called on the Alibaba.com team. Within hours, Alibaba.com was verifying trusted suppliers who could fulfill Salesforce’s request — fast. In a matter of weeks, Alibaba.com helped Salesforce source 60+ million pieces of PPE for frontline healthcare workers.
This sourcing experience is in sharp contrast to the chaotic efforts of other hospitals, healthcare systems, and government agencies. According to the New York Times, “While states have had to compete against one another for scarce supplies and the strategic national stockpile of protective gear is depleted, Mr. Benioff and his team simply called up their business partners” and delivered millions of pieces of PPE in weeks.
Now, 10 months into the pandemic, reports show there is still a shortage of PPE. But If you’re one of the many businesses considering reopening, there are a few steps you can take to ensure the safety of your employees:
- Provide PPE to employees
Some recommended supplies you can provide are face masks, face shields, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes. Although the PPE shortage continues, the Alibaba.com Select team can tap its vast network of suppliers and ensure the goods you need get to you exactly as described, fully inspected, meeting the quality standards you expect, and within your budget. Avoid the chaotic global supply chains and go directly through Alibaba.com Select to get PPE meeting the quality and certifications required, within budget — quickly, securely, and reliably.
- Institute temperature checks
Many organizations that have already reopened require temperature checks. It’s a common action employers are putting in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Station employees at the entrance with contactless thermometers or install automated temperature checks to protect workers from infection and to assure them it is safe to return.
- Reconfigure office
Position desks six feet from one another to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) social distancing guidelines. Install plexiglass partitions if your employees meet with customers. Make walkways one way and increase signage about wearing a mask, hand washing, and social distancing.
Keeping employees safe without access to the critical supplies you need can be an unsettling thought. Stay ahead of the curve and let the team of experts at Alibaba.com Select do the work for you. It’s an end-to-end, hands-on sourcing service powered by Alibaba.com and its superior supply chain networks that provide reliable delivery services, payment and order protection, inspections, and more. The team works directly with trusted manufacturers that can mobilize production fast to fulfill requests with the required certifications. Just tell the team what you need, and they’ll go to work finding the supplies.
This week's #B2BTuesday Tip:
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for safely returning to work. An office with an open floor plan requires different safety tactics than an assembly line in a warehouse. Tailor your safety measures based on your unique business environment.