Behind the scenes: our health and safety program

As a staffing platform that has operated in multiple industries throughout this pandemic, we’ve witnessed first hand the importance of health in this new world and the effort and commitment it takes to keep people safe.

Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, it has become obvious that the focus on health and safety will outlast this pandemic and will be a critical component of the new normal. At Instawork, we acknowledged this fact early on, as it was immediately impacting our partners and professionals. We worked to implement stopgaps quickly, while investing the time to listen to our customers to build an effective health and safety program. We are proud to announce that with the launch of this program, we have made ‘health and safety’ the #1 priority on the platform.

We have already seen examples of this health and safety toolkit creating positive impact for our partners and professionals. Our reliable staffing solution is serving the needs of multiple partners while allowing our professionals to earn bread at the time of this crisis. We worked closely with one of our partners, EXE Logistics, to scale their warehouse workforce in Texas and Tennessee. Another case in point is our partner, Bay Area online grocery Farmstead who grew their warehouse operations 10x overnight using Instawork.

We're happy to report that neither partner has had a single health incident, even in the height of the pandemic. What follows is a behind the scenes story of how we set out to build this health and safety toolkit in the middle of a pandemic.

Role of healthy safety within our labor marketplace

As a platform that matches thousands of businesses with professionals, we were uniquely positioned to understand the challenges that the pandemic presented to both sides of our platform. On the partner side, we engaged with our hospitality community through multiple conversations hosted by Instawork, National Association of Catering and Events, and International Catering Association. For businesses still operating, our sales and account management team engaged closely to understand the challenges they were working through in the moment.

We identified that availability of staff and health and safety measures at the venue would be the two key factors that will help drive their business to normalcy. We also realized that many businesses were hesitant about using temp workers because of the additional risk of infecting their own employees. While at first glance, limiting the size of your workforce sounds like the right thing to do, we’ve seen it counterproductive to the business. If a business limits the number of workers, it assumes an even higher economic risk as the chances of one or more of their employees gets infected outside the workplace is the same as anyone else.

Instead, it’s important that you hold your staffing partners accountable for the same standards that you implement with your own workforce.

On the other side of our platform, our community operations and product team spent countless hours keeping in touch with our professionals to support and understand their needs. Despite employment challenges, most of our professionals told us that health and safety measures at the venue would be the single most important factor for them to pick up any job going forward. They were as anxious about working at a new venue as the businesses were about hiring temp workers.

The key function of a marketplace like ours is to build trust and reduce information asymmetry between its participants. When we took a step back and digested the above information, we realized that the needs of our partners and professionals were intrinsically tied to each other and it was our duty as a platform to facilitate this. This was a very obvious problem that we as a marketplace were best positioned to solve.

Guiding Principles

At Instawork, we always build our products under certain guiding principles that we agree upon beforehand. When we set out to make an effective health and safety toolkit we let the below principles guide us towards the right solution

  • Evoking Empathy: It was important for this program to succeed that both professionals and partners realize that everyone is in this together. A professional runs as much of a risk of getting infected at the venue as the partner runs the risk of professionals infecting their staff. It was important that both our partners as well as professionals empathize with each other and take steps that are in best interest of the overall community. So in our design, we ensured that our product called out why any of these steps were necessary.
  • Build Trust: Trust is the basic foundation of modern society and even more for this health and safety ecosystem. Collecting health safety information is only a part of the puzzle. In order to be successful we had to use this information to build trust on the both sides of the marketplace
  • Show Compassion: This is a testing time for everyone so it is important to ensure that we operate under the principle of showing compassion to those who get impacted with this crisis.  

Components of an effective health safety program

Based on the feedback of our professionals, expert guidance, and processes with our partners in real-time, we built a health and safety toolkit to make it easier to comply with these best practices, and thus keep everyone safer.  Below are a few salient aspects of this health and safety toolkit

  • Professional Training: We ask all our professionals to complete a sanitation training on the platform. This training confirms health safety best practices per the latest CDC guidelines and ensures they’re up-to-date with the latest workplace safety guidelines. As a partner, you also can see who has completed the training by seeing their badge on their profile.
  • Professional Health Attestation: We require every professional to complete a health checklist before working a gig. Any professional who is identified as risky is taken off the gig and asked to self isolate for a period till the symptoms disappear or till he/she tests negative. Our partners can view the health status of the professionals on their dashboard.
  • Partner safety checklist: We also ask our partners to identify health and safety measures that they have instituted at the gig venue . Pros viewing these gigs see your measures to build trust with you and reduce their anxiety when they decide to pick up a gig.
  • Partner safety rating: Driven by the principle of building trust, at the end of every gig we ask our professionals to rate their gig experience and the safety measures at the gig venue. We intend to use this feedback to work closely with our partners to improve their overall safety rating on the platform.
  • Contact tracing response: Apart from all the above features, we realized that there might still be cases that fall outside the above mentioned scenarios. To handle such cases, we came up with a COVID response playbook which ensures that within 24 hours of a case getting reported we take all the necessary safety measures, such as contact tracing and isolating impacted parties, while ensuring we can find a quick replacement to resume day-to-day operations.

“We’re in it together”

It’s a saying we’ve seen everywhere lately, but it’s the underpinning to making this program work. By building these features into the Instawork app, we not only want to show that we are committed to Health & Safety, but we also want our partners and professionals to realize that we are all part of the same community. In order to succeed, the entire community (partners, professionals and Instawork) will have to come together and appreciate the importance of being honest. We expect both partners as well as professionals to be absolutely honest with us and with each other for this ecosystem to keep functioning.

We are confident that using the above health and safety toolkit, our professionals and partners will come together thriving on the other side of this pandemic.