What we heard from you on readiness for reopening

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 05/18/2020

Interim leader Markham McIntyre shares key findings from our recent survey on reopening, along with other updates

At the Chamber, we are constantly evaluating how we can be the best partner to our member companies during these difficult times. One of the most valuable tools in this evaluation is hearing from you.

I’m pleased to share some key findings from our recent survey on reopening, along with other updates. A special thank you to Chamber member Brock Mansfield from Venture Catalyst Services for his guidance on this survey.

Providing Resources for Re-opening

Thank you to the 140 businesses that responded to our anonymous survey around reopening last month. One thing we saw come through very clearly was that businesses are working on their plans to reopen in the coming weeks, and their plans are built around employee and customer safety. 93% of our currently closed respondents planned to reopen when “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” is lifted. 

The #1 priority for these companies was safety. 88% of our respondents had a plan for maintaining 6 feet of separation between employees, and 81% thought they could do the same between employees and customers.

In our survey, respondents rated PPE the #1 most impactful issue for employee and customer safety, and we and others in the business community are working on a range of solutions so that employers can be prepared. This week, we hosted a webinar on PPE considerations with King County Deputy Executive Rachel Smith and Business Health Trust Executive Director Sarai Childs. Sarai’s presentation focused on providing tangible resources and directing attendees to sources that can help procure PPE and sort through these logistical details of returning to work.  You can watch a recording of this webinar here.

A close second in impactful resources was guidance and instructions from government. The week of May 11, Governor Jay Inslee released guidelines for several industries in Phase 2, including:

Gov. Inslee also released a clarification around Phase 1 outdoor recreation activities and guidelines for Phase 2 activities in that industry. You can see all business guidance available so far here.

As a reminder, here are some of the resources that the Chamber and others in the business community have developed around reopening:

  • Back to Work Toolkit, developed by Madrona Venture Partners, alongside the venture community, leading tech, retail, and aerospace companies, and the Seattle Metropolitan and Bellevue Chambers of Commerce.
  • NEW Recording of the Chamber’s webinar on the Back to Work Toolkit with leaders from Madrona Venture Partners, Alaska Airlines, Boon Boona Coffee, Costco, and Microsoft
  • Recording of the webinar hosted by Madrona Venture Partners on the Back to Work Toolkit
  • Checklist: Planning for the New Normal: Checklists and framework developed by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for Challenge Seattle and Washington Roundtable
  • Recording of the webinar the Chamber hosted on BCG's checklist, featuring Charlie Davis and Justin Vincent of BCG, and Teresa Hutson of Microsoft

Staying Alert For Fraudulent Claims

With the increase in unemployment benefits, unemployment fraud is on the rise. The Seattle Times reported that over 700 fraudulent claims were reported this month, adding up to over $1.6 million. As Jane Billbe, our SVP of Operations, noted in an earlier interview with the Times, employers should check their mail for notices and read them carefully, as there is a short window to contest a claim.

We also encourage you to communicate with your colleagues about the importance of checking their own mail for notices from the Employment Security Department, and promptly reporting any fraudulent claims through the online portal that ESD has set up here. Employers can also report fraudulent claims on behalf of their employees here.

Maintaining a Vibrant Business Community

As a membership organization, we deeply appreciate the investment that each you make in your business and your employees by being part of the Seattle Metro Chamber.

We are also sensitive to the impacts that the pandemic and resulting “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order may be having on your business. If your business is impacted by COVID-19 and you are struggling to pay your membership at this time, please communicate your needs to us. We would be happy to work with you to keep your Chamber membership active at this time.

Over our 138 years, our business community has weathered many ups and downs, and we are committed to being a resource and advocate for our region’s employers during these times as well.