Taking a people-first response to COVID-19

Every one of us has experienced an upheaval in how we operate day-to-day the past few weeks. Some moments are tough. Others pull at your heart. But within all of that, people have shown they can adapt, grow, and learn together. My team at Microsoft, Marketing and Consumer Business (MCB), has been working around the clock to answer questions and provide guidance and support during a very uncertain time. I wanted to share what we’ve learned over the past month from our employees, customers, and our partners.

We’re building connections—in a time when we’re practicing social distancing.

Right now, people around the world rely on digital tools that enable collaboration, creation, and connection. Whether people are getting together for remote work or distance learning, a happy hour with old friends or a family game night, we’ve seen Microsoft Teams become an essential tool. Teams is a reliable, secure, and accessible platform that brings together video conferencing, file sharing, and so much more into a central hub for teamwork. Coupled with across-the-board support, Teams has quickly become the tool businesses, governments, and educators (including the world’s oldest university) choose.

We’re providing critical solutions for healthcare organizations on the front lines. St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania is using Teams to video chat with patients most vulnerable to COVID-19. And when a hospital in Shanghai needed a communications tool, we got it up and running in days.

When an elementary school needed to stream its graduation ceremony, we helped them coordinate everything in less than a week. From supporting big moments like these to providing digital, industry-specific training, we try to anticipate people’s needs and help them navigate our products.

One thing I’ve loved seeing is how Teams encourages people to dream bigger and try new things, from graduations to global wine tastings. Despite all that’s happening around us, people continue to adapt, and what they come up with can surprise and inspire us all.

We’re thinking creatively about how to support our employees and our customers.

When we made the tough decision to temporarily close our Microsoft Store locations, we offered our store associates an entirely optional opportunity to work from home—and even though they didn’t need to do it, nearly 80% raised their hand. Moments like these leave me in awe because it speaks volumes to the kind of people that make up Microsoft. These are people who say “yes” because they see the value in what we’re doing together and believe that we each can play an important role in helping others.

True to form, our associates have exceeded our expectations. Every day, they bring their skills and knowledge to support customers, from enterprise to education, with energy and enthusiasm. They’re leveraging their talents in new and interesting ways—in just one month, they’ve trained 65,000 people, addressed hundreds of support questions, assisted with numerous outbound sales calls, and conducted virtual meetings to demonstrate tech. This has enabled us to keep our company moving forward, empower our employees, and respond to increased customer demands—a win-win-win!

We’re innovating to support customers, partners, and the changing landscape.

Once we realized that people around the world would need to shift to virtual events, our production teams quickly mobilized to provide the support needed to make those digital transformations. We’ve developed a scalable framework, and we’re sharing best practices we learned along the way, working with our customers to reimagine what’s possible and create successful solutions and experiences for all. For example, when Nuance Communications needed to pivot its global R&D conference to virtual-only, we helped make that happen—helping them save money, decrease the event’s overall carbon footprint, and more importantly enabled them to keep people excited. We’re also putting these learnings into action within Microsoft as we look to pivot all future events in the next fiscal year to digital-first experiences.

Moving forward, we remain committed to providing spaces where connections are formed, innovation is accelerated, and new paths are forged with our customers and partners.

We’re doing our part to support our communities.

We’ve partnered with The Seattle Foundation, United Way King County (UWKC), and other businesses to develop the COVID-19 Response Fund. We’ve donated medical supplies and meals. We’ve encouraged a culture of giving. But to address the severity of this pandemic, we know it’s going to take much more—and it’s going to take everyone.

That’s why we recently launched Give with Bing, a new way to support the causes people care about by simply searching with Bing. All a user needs to do is switch on “Give Mode” to join Microsoft Rewards, and their searches will earn points that are automatically donated to a nonprofit of their choosing. It’s an easy way to give back and raise money for vulnerable communities.

Microsoft employees are also mobilizing within their communities, putting into action the mission and values that underscore all we do. Follow #MicrosoftTogether on Twitter and LinkedIn and help me celebrate the work our teams are leading, from gathering food donations, raising money, and bringing forward innovative and inclusive design ideas.

The reality is that we’re not sure what’s to come. What we do know is that we’re in this together. People and organizations across communities are coming together in new ways, going above and beyond what’s expected. Take UWKC—not only have they partnered with us, the team has also established a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund designed to further fill gaps to ensure people can access essential items and housing assistance during this time.

I’m humbled by the work people are doing within and beyond Microsoft to address this pandemic. As the weeks go on, I hope we can continue this momentum and move closer toward a solution.


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