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Staying Engaged During Quarantine (And Beyond)

As companies (CQuence Health Group included) begin to navigate the complicated process of returning to in-office work for the first time since the initial spread of COVID-19, we’re looking at a future where organizations must strike a balance between work that can be accomplished in the office and that which can be done at home.

At CQ, we were able to immediately institute a work-from-home policy thanks to careful planning and investment in the technological infrastructure required to make such a switch. But that was only the beginning. Simply sending individuals home and then expecting them to approach work in the exact same way as before the coronavirus isn’t realistic. Ensuring a productive, successful and empowered workforce requires constant engagement, and we did everything we could to ensure no one felt left behind.

Although plans can and likely will change frequently due to the fluid nature of the viral outbreak, this summer will find CQuence Health Group transitioning some staff, at least part of the time, back to headquarters. But during this period, a significant portion of our workforce will continue to work remotely, and the lessons we’ve learned about employee engagement in the preceding months will continue to drive our team member-focused initiatives forward for the foreseeable future.

Here’s how we’ve kept our team actively engaged in a remote set-up and how we plan to continue doing so in the coming months.

Communication!

This is absolutely #1. You can’t foster an actively engaged remote workforce without constant communication.

Communication must be frequent, and it must be designed to meet employees where they are. Visibility into what’s going on at the company is critical to ensuring team member confidence and reassurance that there’s a plan in place to get through the crisis. We’ve sent out regular company updates in order to let our entire organization know what kinds of executive discussions are being had and how CQuence Health Group is approaching and solving the challenges of the COVID-19 era.

We’ve supplemented important organizational updates with tips and tricks, inspirational and fun messaging and team member features to celebrate new hires and anniversaries. In all cases, we’ve made sure to host these messages across a variety of platforms, as we recognize that not everyone engages in the same way. Some individuals may prefer email communications, while others enjoy the ease of our company intranet.

In all cases, we’ve made sure communication is far from a one-way street. CQ invites interaction by asking for team members to share their concerns, their tips for remote working, their insights into technology challenges and more. Our executives host regular “office hours” in which anyone from the company can log in to a Zoom meeting and chat honestly and discreetly about what’s on their mind. We send surveys to gauge the effect of ongoing policies and the potential impact of proposed future policies. And perhaps some of the most fun communications have been when we’ve opened up our channels to invite users to share photos of their in-home office setups, their families and their pet coworkers.

Technology

We also understand that, in a remote environment, technology needs will vary based on the scope of each department, the type of work being conducted and each individual’s internet set-up.

Our IT team has worked closely with employees from around the country to ensure that they have whatever they need to do their jobs. That includes providing tech support, troubleshooting, tips on getting the most out of a home internet connection and even a stipend for those who need to increase their current broadband cable service. Our IT team has been instrumental in making sure the needs of the business are met remotely.

And that’s in addition to the investments we’ve made to make sure all employees are able to communicate via video conference technology and instant messaging and that they have remote access to the same resources they’d be able to use at company headquarters. Without being able to go into the hospitals to meet with our customers, our teams have gotten creative about using Zoom and other virtual apps to host meetings, product demos, question and answer sessions, and even employee-to-employee virtual training.

Getting Social With It

Official business isn’t the only way we’ve been using teleconferencing technology.

Both department-wide and organization-wide, our teams have been hosting regular social gatherings. We’ve gotten feedback from employees about how these have been some of the highlights of their day. From trivia contests to happy hours and even virtual baby showers, our teams have kept in touch with each other in a way that has surpassed our expectations.

The solidarity between team members has extended on several fronts. Sales teams are meeting regularly to share insights they’ve learned from their customers, insights that we can use to provide the best experience possible to those we serve. The book club, which typically meets monthly at CQ headquarters to talk through the latest read, has been sharing quarantine reading recommendations. And one of our most popular company offerings, our in-house gym, has made the online switch as well: team members have been gathering weekly to take part in in-home Zoom workouts, ensuring that the wellness philosophy at the core of our business remains paramount.

Flex Time

Finally, one thing that can’t be ignored in a remote environment is the need for increased flexibility. Companies have to be realistic about what their employees are going through. In many cases, the sudden shift to working from home means that a team member could be balancing childcare, school, work and everything else that goes into a modern life.

Work-life balance is crucial to preventing burnout, and part of that comes down to an employer’s willingness to embrace flexibility. If a team member has to take time to, for instance, get their kids started on a math lesson, that’s something we’re cognizant of.

Each of us has had our lives fundamentally altered by the pandemic. Enabling employees to do their best work sometimes means letting them manage their schedule as they see fit. We have team members who have been busier than ever, and others who have more down time than they’re comfortable with, and in all cases, we’re reaching out to make sure they’re taking the time they need to be with family and to take care of themselves. Ultimately, that will improve their lives and our business as a whole.

Gauging Engagement

The last few months have taught us valuable lessons about the creativity, passion and skill of our employees, not to mention their ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. I’ve personally been thrilled to see how engaged our teams have been with their work, even from a safe social distance, and I have no doubt that we’ll be using what we’ve learned to inform our future strategy.

Thank you to everyone at CQ who continues to work hard each and every day to provide an exceptional customer experience. I hope we’ve done an adequate job demonstrating that we’re here for you as well.

Bruce Stec
About Bruce Stec

Bruce Stec is Vice President of Human Resources for CQuence Health Group and its partner companies. Bruce joined CQuence in 2013 with nearly 20 years of human resources management and consulting experience. Bruce graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and has earned both his Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) certification and his Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certification.

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