Five tips to stay connected while working remotely

Veronica Knuth
Veronica Knuth is vice president of talent at CoverMyMeds.

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically impacted lives around the world. These are unprecedented times, and we’re facing new challenges each day. As we try to navigate this developing situation and assess how it will impact our lives, our teams and our work, we have faced a new reality of working from home.

This rapid transition has resulted in a 40 percent drop in traffic at Franklin County businesses, according to data released by Google. The seismic shift has many asking how they can stay connected. Here are five ways our company has stayed engaged while protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees and their families as we settle into this new normal.

1. Communicate often

It’s important to routinely share timely, relevant information with your employees—at the organizational, department and team levels. This should include any shift in company policies or business operations, the latest federal, state and local guidelines, and important HR information such as a resource guide with best practices for remote work.

Use your company’s messaging platform to keep teams connected and engaged. In the abundance of electronic communication that can be void of tone and emotion, it’s critical to make personality a priority. At CoverMyMeds, we like to have fun in our work and are using Slack to bring employees together through digital scavenger hunts, cooking demonstrations and photo challenges. Despite being physically apart, these connections have brought us closer together through shared interests and getting to know the living spaces, pets, roommates and families of colleagues.

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2. Utilize video conferencing

Digital collaboration platforms and video conferencing solutions encourage connectivity in a remote environment. Turn to these tools to help keep projects on track and maintain your regular meeting schedule.

Videoconferencing is a critical part of our strategy to continue work that honors commitments to our customers and each other. We use it for everything from weekly one on one meetings—where employees stay in touch with their managers, get support and maintain focus on personal development—to our monthly all-staff meeting with 1,400 people, and even interviewing and our biweekly onboarding for new hires, which are currently 100 percent virtual.

It’s also allowed our staff to attend virtual happy hours and participate in events hosted by our various employee resource groups (ERG), such as Rainbow Talks—brief presentations focused on LGBTQ+ topics—from our QCrew ERG and Book Club meetings from our Women in Healthcare IT and Affinity Council ERGs, which support diversity and inclusion.

3. Share best practices

Encourage managers to stay in regular communication with one another to share how their teams are staying connected and engaged. This allows other teams to learn new tips and consider adopting these ideas, too. We also sought guidance from our employees who were already working remotely. Some examples of best practices we’ve shared: daily standups with direct reports, senior leaders checking in with skip-level employees and holding recurring, virtual office hours.

4. Establish priorities

Craft plans for the immediate future that focus on what’s within your control. During this rapidly evolving situation, try to take things a day or two at a time. Establishing and sharing priorities creates alignment among teams and ensures they’re operating effectively with clear goals and accountability to produce the work that matters most.

5. Remain transparent

This can be a challenging time for people balancing personal and professional responsibilities. Set expectations on when you are and are not available and establish work hours that align with your availability. We empower our employees to let their managers know if they need to unplug to care for their family, and we support them if they need to adjust their schedules. We’ve found that setting a status—such as “making lunch” or “helping with schoolwork today” —on our communication platform, Slack, is an effective way that we can respect each other’s time away from the screen.

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These are challenging times and it’s important to continue to support one another. It’s also important to not assume what the conditions are that your employees are dealing with. Talk to them, ask questions and listen to their needs so you can support them as best you can.We’ve established an employee assistance fund for those facing financial hardship and are letting our team know about ways they can support each other and the community.

Now, more than ever, is a time to encourage innovation, creativity and adaptability. Leaning into our core values for guidance and focusing on our mission to help patients has allowed our team to honor commitments with minimal impact.

Soon, we will all find ourselves back together, picking up where we left off in the workspaces that feel like home, with the people who help us fulfill our purpose. In the meantime, I hope everyone stays healthy and safe.

Veronica Knuth is vice president of talent at CoverMyMeds.