News & Resources

Why we responded to the COVID-19 crisis by reducing our work week

Apr 6, 2020 | News & Updates

Last month, NEC’s Co-Directors met to discuss how to address the coronavirus pandemic. We are a national network with a bold vision. Before the COVID-19 crisis, our staff and members worked day in and day out to transform our economy to one that puts people and the planet before profit. Now, amidst a global pandemic and economic turmoil, we know that our work, and the work of our members, is needed more than ever.

But, as the wisdom goes, you gotta put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help others. As we continue to support our members and communities, we choose in this moment to ensure the well-being of our team. We choose to live into our values. The same values that we believe will shape the new economy: caregiving and mutual aid, rest, access.

In an effort to center the mental, physical, and financial well-being of our staff during these unprecedented times, we have adopted the following policies:

In the first week of “stay at home” orders…

  • All staff have 8 hours off to prep – buy food, run errands, etc.
  • All staff will receive a one-time $250 stipend (to be used at their discretion – either for personal use or to pay it forward as mutual aid).

For the duration of the crisis…

  • Staff can access unlimited sick time for coronavirus-related illness
  • All full-time staff will work 32 hour work weeks
  • All staff receive $100/month home office stipends

“Why a 32 hour work week?”

We know that reduced work weeks lead to higher productivity. That’s all well and good, but we are moved to reduce our work week for different reasons.

We value rest.

We want to give our team the spaciousness to respond to the increase in stress and anxiety by having 8 additional hours to do with what they will. Some of our staff will be using those hours by supporting local mutual aid efforts. Some may take more naps, spend time with their children. Some staff may do nothing in particular. We celebrate it all.

“What is a home office stipend?”

We have offered home office stipends ever since transitioning to a mostly remote organization a few years ago. Now that all staff are remote, we expanded access to home office stipends. These stipends are to be used at the discretion of the individual staff member. $100 each month can cover someone’s utilities, such as bills that will increase as a result of staff being home more (electricity, internet, water, heat), as well as anything else an employee might need to make working at home more doable (an ergonomic set up, a comfortable working chair, a printer).

“This is great for your team, but my organization could never adopt that policy…”

We ask you to challenge that assumption.

To be transparent – we are a $1 million dollar organization. Some of our policies are potentially out of reach for smaller organizations. And to be honest, some of our policies likely don’t go far enough to support our people. But we’re sharing these policies in the hope that you can adopt some or all of these policies at your own organization. This crisis is asking us all to make changes. The question is: how will you adapt?

Please share with us what you’re doing to support your teams during the COVID-19 crisis. You can reach us at

Shout out to Truthout (an independent news outlet reliant on reader donations), who led the way by sharing their organizational policy response on twitter. We also take leadership from the Nap Ministry, disability rights activists, and mental health advocates, who advocate rest as central to healing justice and liberation. We are all on a journey to unlearn capitalist & white supremacist ideas about productivity and human value.



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