The COVID-19 health crisis has disrupted our daily lives around the world, and uncertainty prevails. While the news changes day-to-day, we’ve returned to our core values — taking care of our people, customers and communities. We’re so grateful for everyone caring for others right now, whether on the front lines or staying home to help stop the spread. Through it all, we’ve rediscovered a deeper appreciation for home — from the spaces where we live to the larger home created by our associates, customers and collaborators.
Supporting Our Associates
On March 17, 2020, we made the decision to close stores across our brands and locations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. For corporate associates, we implemented temporary work-from-home policies. Whenever possible, we reassigned associates whose work could not be done from home to other business-critical activities such as customer care and digital design services.
Safety and pay continuation for our people have been our two key priorities during this pandemic and we feel fortunate to be in a strong financial position to be able to continue providing pay and benefits to our store and corporate associates who’ve been regularly working more than 12 hours weekly for the entire time our stores have been closed. In distribution centers that remained open, we implemented strict safety protocols such as social distancing measures, enhanced sanitization, daily wellness checks and a supply of personal protective gear such as masks and gloves.
For our associates company-wide, we’ve provided continued telehealth support and employee assistance programs, special wellness resources and tools and a dedicated associate hotline to provide real-time support during this very challenging time. For those associates experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, we were able to provide relief through Williams- Sonoma, Inc. Foundation funds.
Our associates have shown true dedication and passion for the care of our teams and customers, and for that we’re deeply grateful.
Supporting Our Customers
With a strong digital presence across all our brands and an engrained commitment to safe and sustainable products, we continued to drive value and service for our customers. Across our brands, we expanded virtual design services and launched virtual design appointments. In our Williams Sonoma brand, we launched “Ask the Expert” for customers seeking recipes, tips and advice. So far, we’ve launched contactless curbside pickup at close to 500 locations, with more planned.
In stores that have re-opened, we’ve implemented heightened safety measures, including:
- Shopping by appointment
- Limitation on the number of customers and associates in stores, consistent with state-specific guidelines
- New signage to encourage social distancing, including floor markers, directional traffic arrows and signage at every store entrance
- Wellness Ambassadors to manage customer traffic flow, monitor store traffic and limit customers based on store footprint
- Daily wellness checks for associates
- A supply of masks and gloves for store associates
- Frequent sanitization and enhanced cleaning throughout the day
We’ve also altered delivery procedures with customer and associate safety as our top priority. We brief customers on safety procedures pre-delivery, maintaining 6 feet of separation from the customer at all times. We also supply masks, gloves and booties for all delivery associates.
Supporting Our Community
Starting March 21, 2020, we launched a campaign with No Kid Hungry to provide meals to children in need during the pandemic. As of May 31, 2020, we’ve raised over $800,000 across all our brands. Working with our nonprofit partner Good360, we also donated home goods to a network of nonprofits in need.
For frontline healthcare workers, we donated food and personal care kits. Donations included 20,000 surgical masks to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center and San Francisco’s UCSF For frontline healthcare workers, we donated food and personal care kits. Donations included surgical masks to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center and San Francisco’s UCSF Mount Zion Medical Center. Williams Sonoma launched “Take a Break on Us,” a national campaign providing coffee machines and coffee capsules for hospitals across the country, while West Elm partnered with Designtex to manufacture and donate masks to CAMBA, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit agency. At West Elm’s Industry City Makers Studio, associates used 3D printers to make face shields for first responders.
Around the world, our best-in-class vendors and factories have gone above and beyond to prioritize their worker’s health and safety while responding to the needs of their communities. In several of our Fair Trade factories, community development funds from the Fair Trade program were used to ensure workers had access to food, protective gear and personal care products. Many of our vendors in Vietnam and India have converted their production lines to produce sanitizers, face masks, medical protective suits and healthcare textiles. West Elm has also worked with nonprofit partners in Guatemala to repurpose funds from the Pintando el Cambio to provide families in the community with food and protective gear. In the U.S., we continue to support and protect our west elm LOCAL and small business community.
As the pandemic continues, we’re responding to new protocols and state guidelines. Most importantly, we’re listening to our associates, customers and community members. As Vicki McWilliams, EVP of Stores and Customer Care Centers, said to our associates: “Your feedback is critical in helping us learn from what you’re experiencing, and we’ll adjust our protocols and resources with you as our guide.”