VELO3D is back up and running an in-person business thanks to the CEO’s vaccination policy.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, hope emerged earlier this year with the mass rollout of vaccines. As access to these vaccines continues to widen, so do hopes of opening up again from pandemic-driven closures.
The overall goal for vaccination is so-called herd immunity, which generally means that about 70-90% of a population reaches immunity, often via vaccine, from a particular disease. With immunization rates rising, many areas are easing their restrictions, with some having already totally dropped requirements like wearing face coverings.
It’s these steps of progress that have led to a return in some cases to in-person events like TCT Asia and AMUG, and let us look forward to more events on our calendars again.
It’s also these steps that are allowing offices and production facilities to ramp back up to full in-person staffing.
One California-based company is especially keen to go about its full reopening in a responsible way — by enforcing a vaccination policy for every employee. VELO3D, famed for its complex support-free metal 3D printing capabilities, is now also becoming quite well known for leadership in another area.
“As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out quickly across the country, businesses like mine are wrestling with the question of how to handle employees returning to the office. In making these decisions, we must keep in mind that we have responsibilities to ensure our businesses succeed – and to society at large. Our choices will have a tremendous impact on how the nation’s next stage shapes up,” VELO3D CEO Benny Buller wrote in a widely circulated USA Today opinion piece published May 20.
“At Velo3D, where we provide advanced metal 3D printing technology to some of the most visionary companies in the world, I’m requiring all of my roughly 120 employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine unless a medical professional provides them with a written medical excuse.
Working from home is not an excuse. We have a rule that managers should be able to call in any employee to a meeting on site when necessary. So all employees must be vaccinated. For those who are having the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, by June 1 they must have their second shot.”
Of those approximately 120 employees, all but two met that mandate; one had a medical exemption, the other resigned.
The vaccination mandate stands as well for anyone who might do in-person business at VELO3D:
“The same goes for other people who wish to visit our facilities – contractors, investors and customers from businesses we serve. We’re using the honor system at this point, having people declare that they were vaccinated and when. No documentation is needed. We’re trusting people to do the right thing,” Buller wrote.
While in a politicized pandemic atmosphere the policy met with pushback, Buller did his legal homework.
“I read with curiosity the responses claiming what I did was not legal, lawsuits are coming and how unAmerican it is. Well, a federal judge in Texas just ruled that there is no federal law preventing employers requiring their employees to get the Covid-19 vaccines. This is the dismissal of the lawsuit by 17 employees against Methodist hospital. Now that this is settled, many more employers can follow,” Buller wrote in a comment on a LinkedIn post.
The pandemic has to date claimed the lives of nearly 600,000 and seen more than 33 million positive diagnoses in the US alone. As more options become available to fight the spread of this virus, new policies are developing across governmental, local, and even corporate levels. If more companies decided to follow the VELO3D approach, vaccination rates would continue to rise.
Every VELO3D employee has been vaccinated per the June 1 deadline. As of this past Monday, the 14th, then, the company lifted its mask mandate as the two-week post-vaccination period ended and every person in the company is considered fully vaccinated.
Today, it’s business as usual at VELO3D. How many companies can say that?
“I’m really calling to other CEOs to do the same,” Buller said in an ABC 7 News interview.
We’re all looking forward to an end to this public health crisis. Vaccination policies are an intriguing way to see the 3D printing industry move back toward in-person business.