Since March 2020, COVID-19 has significantly impacted our lives in many ways. To help control its rapid spread and the burden it placed on our healthcare system, government officials across the country enacted lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders, as well as mask and social distancing mandates. Except for essential workers, businesses were ordered to continue their operations remotely, at least until the level of viral transmission was reduced to a controllable level.
While many businesses can operate remotely at the same level of efficiency and effectiveness and can, therefore, remain remote for longer durations (or decide to remain decentralized indefinitely), many companies require on-site work and in-person interactions. As businesses continue to return to worksites and in-person work, it is imperative that they take decisive, evidence-based actions to protect their employees.
Founded in 2009, Bolt Threads is a material solutions company located in Emeryville, California. It specializes in creating sustainable, scalable materials that benefit both humans and the environment. Some of their trademark creations include MICROSILK™, a sustainably produced textile spun from the same proteins as a spider’s web, and MYLO™, a mycelium-based alternative to animal and synthetic leather. Bolt Threads’ employees include a diverse and eclectic group of professionals, including laboratory scientists, engineers, and operations and product development specialists.
Shelter-in-place and work-from-home orders took effect in Emeryville in mid-March 2020. Bolt Threads shut down its laboratory, and all employees were required to work from home. The back-office operations, product, and commercial teams easily adapted, while the laboratory scientists and engineers spent their time analyzing and organizing data. However, over time, it became clear the scientists and engineers needed to be on-site to access specialized equipment and continue their research. Bolt Threads realized they could not sustain their remote-only business in the long term. The Workplace Operations team initially created return-to-work safety protocols, including trainings and online forms for symptom checks, spreadsheets for scheduling, and contact tracing, while putting their employees’ safety first and foremost.
While these internal measures worked well for the small on-site team they welcomed back first, Bolt Threads needed a scalable solution that would work for maintaining the safety of larger groups on-site. That’s when the company decided to look for a safe and efficient solution.
Bolt Threads’ CEO and VP of People & Places was referred to Carbon Health, technology-powered, human-centered healthcare company based in San Francisco. Carbon Health had developed COVID Ready, an evidence-based program designed to help businesses safely bring people back to work.
COVID Ready has several key elements: testing, education, monitoring and reporting, customized action plans, and in-person and virtual care. Carbon Health’s robust testing features and partnerships with FDA-approved labs allows companies to do fast diagnostic or antibody tests on-site or at-home. COVID Ready comes with frequently updated educational tools, providing employees with the most recent, evidence-based information for reducing the risk of infection and outbreaks. COVID Ready allows for daily check-ins and employee symptom tracking, all of which can be viewed and managed through a user-friendly dashboard.
If an employee has symptoms, COVID Ready’s customized action plans provide clear and easy steps to follow, as well as anonymous contact tracing managed by Carbon Health. Through Carbon Health’s app, an employee can create an in-person appointment at a clinic or have instant access to Carbon Health’s virtual care offerings. The COVID Ready app is HIPAA-compliant, ensuring all employee data is kept private and secure.
“There was uncertainty amongst some of our employees about COVID-19 and their work situation during this time. The fact that Carbon Health always utilized clinical expert oversight created peace of mind for the Bolt Threads team.” — Sholeh Esmaili-Montoya, Vice President of People & Places, Bolt Threads
Bolt Threads was happy to partner with Carbon Health, a reputable healthcare provider that values a culture of safety as much as they do. They were also pleased with how responsive Carbon Health was to feedback and the company’s willingness to work with Bold Threads as a team. Bolt Threads’ VP of People & Places stated COVID Ready easily automated the work they had initially tried to do manually, making it much more sustainable from an administrative standpoint. The Workplace Operations team also said contact tracing through COVID Ready was more reliable and much easier to manage. Bolt Threads also appreciated that the dashboard was easy to use and made monitoring employee compliance simple.
Employees were pleased with the easy access to virtual care and how it saved them hours of time spent trying to find an in-person appointment. Also, the efficiency of employee testing continued to improve as Carbon Health’s partner labs continued to improve their own efficiency.
There was uncertainty among employees about COVID-19 and their work situation during this time. The fact that Carbon Health always utilized clinical expert oversight created peace of mind for the Bolt Threads team. Employees were also confident the health information was science-based and their personal data was kept confidential. As one employee stated: “I was impressed with the implementation of Carbon App and testing.” After a few weeks, Bolt Threads noticed an increase in workplace operations efficiency, allowing the rest of the team to continue focusing on their work.