In just a few months, COVID-19 has changed the world in more ways than we could ever have imagined. We’re now versed in previously unfamiliar scientific terms – things like exponential growth, the R rate and the doubling rate. We comply with hygiene and social distancing rules and can easily tell the difference between a makeshift mask and a FFP2 mask. We communicate differently, work differently, and live differently than we did before. When shopping at the supermarket, we make sure to avoid others. From above it might look a bit like a game of Pac-Man.
At DHL, we responded quickly to the pandemic. Our top priority was and still is to protect our colleagues from infection – with social distancing and hygiene rules, with facemasks, working from home whenever possible, and contactless delivery. Our second goal was to make sure people can continue to ship and receive the things they need. And we succeeded in this, even during the phase of strict lockdowns in Germany. We also launched initiatives such as “DHL lokal handeln“ (DHL act local) to support local retailers. The crisis has certainly highlighted the critical importance of logistics.
Business goes on, but the corona crisis has given us pause. While we’ve grown accustomed to the extraordinary situation, we also long for a return to normality. But what will that normality look like? How can we learn from the crisis and build more sustainable economies and stronger communities in the future?
We’re not only thinking about these questions ourselves, but also discussing them with our customers large and small. Our dialogue with Grubenhelden – the Gladbeck-based fashion label that we’ve partnered with since 2016 – has been particularly close. Grubenhelden has created a modern lifestyle brand featuring sustainable, mining-inspired streetwear and accessories that celebrate the coal mining industry and working-class culture of Germany’s Ruhr region.
Working together with Grubenhelden, we came up with the idea of a reversible, DHL-branded facemask. One side of the mask is made from the same fabric as the polo shirts worn by DHL couriers; the flip side features Grubenhelden branding, including hammer and chisel icons as symbols of the mining industry. A limited number of masks are available for purchase on Grubenhelden´s online shop. Originally, the goal was to introduce the masks internally within DHL only, but the project has since grown into something bigger.