Our Impact

Keeping workers well: A new initiative sets vision for health at work during COVID-19

Published
23 Nov 2020


The impact.

Keeping workers well. It is the united aim of a new global community influencing how companies will keep employees safe. What is the role of COVID-19 testing? What is the value of contact tracing? How do organizations ensure health at work for all employees?

Members from a diverse range of industries – from healthcare to food, utilities, software and more – and from over 25 countries and 250 companies representing more than 1 million employees are involved in the COVID-19 Workplace Commons: Keeping Workers Well initiative. Launched in July 2020, the project is a partnership between the World Economic Forum and Arizona State University with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

What's the challenge?

In the United States, 88% of workers say they are moderately to extremely stressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more than two thirds say it is the most stressful time in their careers.

At the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit, a panel of experts discussed a new vision for health at work, answering the question: what can be done to protect and enhance employees' physical and mental health and safety for both remote and on-site workers? Watch the replay of the session here.

Since the pandemic, companies have struggled to successfully navigate the transition to remote working and designing protocols for employees returning to the workplace. Currently, there is a lack of real-world, timely and accessible data on workplace reopening testing approaches and other workplace changes due to COVID-19.

One of the solutions was the creation of the COVID-19 Workplace Commons: Keeping Workers Well peer-to-peer network. Launched on the the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare and its COVID Action Platform, the network helps organizations to learn from each other and follow trends by industry, geography and institution size.

Our approach.

The COVID-19 Workplace Commons: Keeping Workers Well initiative leverages the Forum’s platforms, networks and global convening ability to collect, refine and share strategies and approaches for returning to the workplace safely as part of broader COVID-19 recovery strategies.

The initiative is progressing with three main components:

1. Exclusive communities of experts and curated conversations are currently being hosted by Arizona State University’s Decision Theater scenario planning facility, allowing companies to interact directly with peers and facilitating innovative methods for returning to the workplace safely.

2. A comprehensive survey designed to understand how employers have handled the coronavirus crisis to date and to assess future plans. The survey addresses testing, contact tracing, financial impacts and remote working. Submissions for the survey are open on a rolling basis and companies worldwide are invited to participate here.

3. A subset of eligible responses from the survey, representing the most innovative organizations will become featured case studies for peer learning on navigating the challenges of returning to work.

The speed at which the world will reopen economies and return workers to critical industries necessitates coordinated sharing and refinement of best practices by workers, employers, policy-makers, front-line institutions and governments – which is the aim of the COVID-19 Workplace Commons.

Workers and consumers around the world not only need to be safe but also to feel safe and one of the best ways to do this is by expanded access to testing.

Jonathan Quick, Managing Director for Pandemic Response, Preparedness and Prevention at The Rockefeller Foundation; Author of The End of Epidemics

How can you get involved?

The Forum is inviting organizations globally to contribute to the COVID-19 Workplace Commons: Keeping Workers Well initiative via the online survey as a first step.

Companies can also apply to share their learnings and participate in the initiative as a partner, by joining the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare.

Partners involved in the initiative currently include 54gene, Ada Health, Arizona State University, Avellino, Cerner, Ginkgo Bioworks, IBM, Infosys, International SOS (Australasia), Ipsos, Koç Holding, Merck KGaA, National Safety Council, Riyad Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, SAP, Siemens Healthineers, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Yara International.