Published: December 10, 2021 | Comments
Before the pandemic began, our contact center was nestled within a room of our administrative building and we were counting down the days before we got to spread out in a new building we were renovating for our administrative offices.
When the day came to move our teammates to the new facility, instead of a celebration of a new beginning, it was a strategic way for us to safely distance employees to prevent spread of a dangerous new virus. We moved a handful of people to the new building, sent more than half the team home with remote equipment to work from a home office, a dining room table, or in some circumstances, the living room sofa. We kept the other handful of teammates in their original space with designated empty cubicles between each person to prevent unnecessary exposure.
In the days following the first exodus of remote workers, the remaining employees at the old building also transitioned to remotely working from home. Our company’s IT department worked diligently to ensure information security measures remained in place for remote workers to preserve both safety and experience. None of it was perfect, but we surely did the best we could with what we had.
Finding a way to make connections with each other was an essential part of the day for many of us. I’m a naturally social person, and I was no longer able to connect through the same spontaneous social interaction with my teammates as in the past. We’ve had to be intentional with where and how we interacted with each other – a Zoom lunch meeting, a socially distanced coffee date, an early morning or late afternoon virtual team meeting. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow with a video conference going through some quirks or an animal jumping onto someone’s lap at the most inopportune moment.
It’s a slippery slope to say I should, would, or could do things differently if we entered another state of emergency. I know that we cannot compromise our people, their safety, or their sanity, and that we have to be willing to be vulnerable and communicate what we don’t understand.
We made the best decisions we could with the information and technological resources we had. Much of the early movement to remote work was dependent on access to the appropriate technology equipment to maintain security and ensure delivery of service to our customers.
We found that many of our teammates were successful working in a remote environment and were able to maintain connections with us and our mission to serve our members while working remotely from home. Due to these successes, we’ve managed to continue the hybrid model for one teammate and a full remote environment for another who lives in a different region. We also have been able to accommodate situations when a teammate must temporarily work from home. We’ve come to understand that our capabilities for our people and our technology far outreaches what we could have imagined possible.