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The New Era of Working from Home

By August 17, 2020January 15th, 2021Employee Well-being Employers Spotlight
Bob Toner, working from his home

I’ve always been an advocate for a healthy work-life balance. I thought my team could work from home for a day or two a week. That said, I never thought we would be able to work from home full-time. What can I say? I’m a bit old school that way.

However, now that I am working from home full time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we can work from home successfully for an extended period of time. And I think we’ve been performing very well. I don’t want to be a permanent remote business, but the more the world adapts to it, the more acceptance there will be. Before the pandemic, I rarely worked from home, but I certainly caught on quickly, embraced the technology, and saw the benefits of this new work environment.

The Pros and Challenges of Working from Home

Independence Blue Cross is supportive of people working from home from different locations because it enhances your work experience and allows for more work-life balance. One of the many benefits of working from home is that there isn’t any commuting required. This extra time you get back can be used to exercise or pick up a new hobby or skill.

The challenges of working remotely

Working from home is not without its challenges, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome those challenges. One of the primary difficulties I find with remote work is that without face-to-face meetings with clients, it’s hard to gauge their needs since body language is a crucial component of communication. To combat this, we touch base with our clients often and engage them much more frequently.

While I may be tempted to do a short phone call to get something accomplished quickly, it’s also important to turn on my camera from time to time for video meetings.

Staying Connected While Working Remotely

When working remotely, it’s important to find creative ways to stay connected and engaged. Some ideas my team has come up with include:

Personal videos: Something as simple as a 30-second video shout-out goes a long way in staying connected. We did this recently when we asked our team to submit a quick video of how they are spending their time at home, e.g., exercising, home improvements, spending more time with kids, and we are sharing these videos at the start of our meetings.

Photo contests: In the beginning of the pandemic, we started a contest where people could submit their best remote workspace photo and everyone voted on their favorite photo. It was a great way for people to feel connected.

Wellness challenges: Independence Blue Cross also held a walking challenge through our Achieve Well-being platform. One of the apps the platform connects through is Map My Walk. Our team set up a challenge so everyone could stay motivated and connected. We could see when someone completed a walk and who was in the lead.

We are also holding a sales fitness competition with daily challenges and the chance to gain points for your team by participating in virtual fitness classes. Teams are also encouraged to have weekly coffee breaks to check in and stay connected. Wellness challenges are a great way for colleagues to stay connected with a little added friendly competition.

Looking Ahead

After the COVID-19 pandemic ends, I could see my team continuing to work-from-home much more frequently. Since my team handles national accounts, I definitely see more virtual meetings happening in our future. In fact, we are looking at virtual options for our larger events for next year.

This move would align with current forecasting that estimates that 56 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work. In addition, estimates show that 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.

 

Bob Toner

About Bob Toner

Bob Toner is director of premier accounts at Independence Blue Cross. With over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, Bob has accountability for the performance of the large groups (1,000+) and national account retention units. He is responsible for all customer relations, customer retention, and growth to over 150 customers which include over 700,000 members.