How Qurate Retail Group Is Prioritizing Team Member Health and Safety
April 20, 2020 (this story was last updated on September 8, 2020): The health and safety of our Qurate Retail Group team members are our top priorities as we continue to support our customers and communities during this unprecedented time. We are deeply thankful to our team members for their continued dedication and diligent work as we manage through this period together – particularly those team members whose work is done on-site.
COVID-19 has created a challenging environment, and we are making daily adjustments to protect our team members. We are vigilantly monitoring the evolving situation, and we will continue to take action, based on state and local agency guidance and mandates and on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading health experts.
Here is an update on the measures we are taking to safeguard our team members.
We Are Promoting Safe Social Distancing Across Our Worldwide Organization
The CDC has identified social distancing – keeping ample space between yourself and other people – as the single most important step all of us can take when outside of our homes to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We have taken a wide range of steps to encourage social distancing among our team.
First, we have directed all team members who can work from home to do so, shifting over 10,000 office-based team members and customer service representatives worldwide to work from home. This has greatly reduced the number of people in our buildings.
Some team members have continued to work on-site through the crisis to maintain critical operations that cannot be managed remotely. These team members are prepping and shipping orders to our customers; or producing or appearing in our live broadcasts; or completing any number of other key on-site tasks. We have immense appreciation for these team members, and we are determined to create as safe an environment as possible for these team members by following appropriate protocols from the CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and state and local Departments of Health.
Across all of our sites worldwide, we are mandating that team members and visitors maintain at least six feet between themselves and other people. To facilitate this, we have:
- significantly limited the number of vendors, guests, contractors, and other visitors in our buildings;
- cancelled all town hall meetings and other large gatherings, and limited smaller meetings to only those that are most critical and conducive to safe social spacing;
- discouraged people from grouping together informally, by staggering breaks and lunch schedules, removing furniture from common spaces, and eliminating self-serve options in our cafes, and;
- posted social distancing signage in key areas to reinforce maintaining six feet of separation.
In addition, in our fulfillment centers, we have:
- modified project timelines and rescheduled events to reduce the number of non-local team members and vendors onsite; and
- adjusted our security screening process to prevent a large gathering of people exiting a site at one time.
And in our broadcast studios, we have:
- reduced our total number of live hours, thereby reducing the number of staff needed onsite for live shows;
- suspended live audience shows;
- stopped having guests come to our studios (many now join us by Skype);
- significantly reduced the number of models in our live shows and developed new blocking plans that create ample space between models, hosts, and production staff;
- eliminated onsite salon services (our hosts and models now do their own hair and makeup); and
- changed how we present food items to minimize food prep backstage and eliminate food tasting on air.
Our QVC and HSN hosts are producing more live social content from the safety of their homes, and our Cornerstone Brands and Zulily teams are finding new ways to produce and edit creative content from team members’ homes.
We temporarily closed our retail stores and outlets to the public in March. All of our retail stores and outlets are now open again. All locations are operating with significant limitations on the number of people permitted in the stores, supported by a comprehensive plan and training materials to protect customer and team member safety. We will also have face masks and other protective equipment available in our stores to support both team members and customers.
We Have Elevated Our Focus on Cleanliness and Wellness
In addition to practicing social distancing, we consistently reinforce the CDC’s recommendations on handwashing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of workstations and shared spaces, the use of face coverings to protect those around us, and other measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Across our sites, we have instructed onsite team members who are sick, have a sick family member who is sick, are awaiting COVID-19 test results, or have been instructed by their healthcare provider to get tested for COVID-19, to stay home. We are conducting temperature screenings at the majority of our sites prior to entrance to our facilities. At QVC, HSN, Zulily, and Cornerstone Brand US sites, we have installed new self-administered temperature screening devices that allow team members to have their temperatures taken on-site via a contactless sensor. At HSN’s offices in St. Petersburg, Florida, temperature screenings will continue to be administered by a third party and not self-ministered, however the new devices will be installed on the premises and available for use by team members. Should any team member receive a temperature reading that indicates they have a fever, the team member should follow existing protocols, notify their manager, and go home.
The same new temperature screening devices being used in the US sites will also be installed and available in all our international facilities by late September 2020.
Currently, in those locations where onsite temperature screenings are not available, team members and guests are self-checking their temperatures and reviewing our health questionnaire before entering our sites.
We are requiring anyone entering a QRG facility to wear face mask or cloth covering in all spaces that are routinely occupied by two or more individuals.* At some sites, we’re also in the process of procuring gloves and/or goggles to offer depending on each team member’s role and the local health situation. In addition, we are:
- providing additional hand sanitizing stations for team members, and posting signs reminding everyone to wash their hands;
- opening interior doors to minimize the number of surfaces that team members touch while at work;
- setting ventilation systems to maximize the amount of fresh air coming into each facility; and
- increasing the frequency of routine environmental cleaning and disinfecting, and conducting targeted deep cleaning, when necessary.
Every On-site Team Member Has the Option to Stay Home
We profoundly appreciate everything our team members are doing to support our customers and communities through this challenging time – especially team members who are on-site at our studios, and fulfillment centers
This pandemic is unsettling, and it is also creating unexpected personal situations. We are allowing every on-site team member the option to stay at home, for any reason, with no penalty or career harm for making that choice, and we have taken steps to soften the financial impact of those decisions. For our U.S. team, this includes the following:
- For U.S. team members, we offered the following during the early part of the crisis (mid-March through May 31):
- We suspended our attendance policies and time off policies to provide maximum flexibility for team members who may need or want to stay home.
- We began providing up to 80 hours of emergency time off pay for certain COVID-19 related situations, options for our team members to receive Partial Emergency Pay for any reason, inclusive of navigating personal and family situations in this challenging time.
- For those whose work was required to be conducted on-site, we offered recognition pay, which included an increase of $2 per hour for all hourly team members and an increase for salaried team members.
- Currently, we are offering the following for U.S. team members:
- We are continuing to provide up to 80 hours of emergency time off pay for certain COVID-19 related situations. Team members may also use other paid time off options or an unpaid COVID leave option to be away from work for various reasons.
- In addition, we have launched an expansion of our Alternative Work Arrangements, offering a variety of temporary schedule options where possible to help team members manage unexpected pressures in their personal lives.
Around the world, our communities are beginning to permit the resumption of some economic activity and are starting to loosen some aspects of stay-at-home orders. This will be a slow and gradual process with varying practices and timelines, but with some common themes, including continuing to encourage work from home for a period of time, and maintaining strict social distancing, sanitation, health checks, and other actions to contain the spread of the virus. Qurate Retail Group will remain resolutely focused on the safety and well-being of all team members—those currently onsite, and those currently working from home.
- For the benefit of the communities we live and work in, no at home team members will be asked to return to working onsite until we are confident that the necessary safety protocols are in place, adequate notice has been given, and choices and options have been considered.
- To manage the transition, we have established a cross functional, cross business unit, cross market team to determine how our people, technology, and workplace practices need to evolve to meet the needs of restarting, reopening and ultimately embracing the ‘new normal’.
- This will be a challenge, but we are confident that we will successfully navigate these new ways of working by staying focused on doing the right thing for our teams, customers, and communities.
We are able to serve our customers and support our communities only through the incredible dedication and effort of our 25,000 Qurate Retail Group team members worldwide. As this pandemic continues to unfold, we are committed to taking care of our team members and will continue to monitor and follow best practices for health and safety.
*The use of masks will not be required to be worn by any individual with a medical condition or ailment, which may adversely restrict the individual’s ability to breathe thus resulting in further risk to the individual. Additional reasonable measures may be necessary to ensure the safety of these individuals and their co-workers.