Lessons from The DRG’s Largest Remote Work Experiment

Lessons from The DRG’s Largest Remote Work Experiment

In February 2020, Time magazine published an article titled, “The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Become the World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment.” Well, it certainly is that for all of us at The DRG. While we are not new to having a remote workforce, we learned quite a bit after transitioning from 10% to nearly 100% remote operations. Such a significant transition wouldn’t succeed without the support of an extremely agile technology services group – and our talented team definitely rose to the occasion. The realities of this shift require adjusting internal communication strategies to continue meeting employees’ needs. In the spirit of sharing experiences that we can all learn from, here are some of the internal communication practices we’ve adopted to help our employees quickly adapt and succeed in this work-from-home experiment.

Open and Frequent Communication

The most important success factor to managing a highly productive remote workforce is maintaining open communication at every level. While we’ve always made it a priority to maintain 360⁰ employee feedback, finding the right frequency of communication, the right combination of digital channels, and encouraging continuous feedback has become critical to making this temporary transition a success. Here are some of the ways we’re adapting:

  • Frequent email updates on company progress while transitioning to remote operations
  • Bi-monthly All Staff meetings, conducted via video conferencing (pre-Coronavirus frequency was every other month)
  • Sharing high-level status updates on the financial health of our business and future outlook
  • Sending reminders about important data security policies and procedures
  • Providing support and guidance to our team of managers
  • Regularly encouraging all employees to share their ideas, questions, and concerns with their managers and directly with the Senior Management Team
  • Promptly responding to employee feedback, either one-on-one, in team meetings, or via company-wide communications
  • Publishing our internal wellness newsletter more frequently with a focus on information and tips to help employees maintain physical and mental health and wellbeing

Many employees have shared positive responses to the level of communication they are receiving. While there’s no single right way to handle a crisis such as this, taking a straightforward approach when communicating our business situation and strategic plans with our employees is something we’ve done for many years, through both good and hard times.

Empathy for Individual Challenges

Making a seamless transition to nearly 100% remote operations was critical to providing our clients with a trusted, secure continuity of service. As a company, we believe that success is only possible when each person challenges themselves to work as smart and efficiently as possible every day. Living up to that core value is taking on a heightened level of importance. Finding a way to quickly adapt to working alone, physically distant from team members, is no small feat. To support that effort, the messaging and tone of our internal communications needed to convey the genuine sense of concern our senior leadership has for each employee’s unique situation. Additionally, they also recognized that employees were dealing with many other challenges brought on by the pandemic, from caring for extended family members, supervising home-schooling, or dealing with potential income reduction. To address these concerns, our leadership offered flexible solutions to help employees cope with the disruption to both their work routines and personal lives. Our goal is that each one of us will be able to hold our heads high when we look back on this challenging period, knowing that we all did our very best to help achieve collective success.

Looking to the Future

The DRG is not new to the remote worker concept. Roughly 10% of our employees live 100 miles or more away from our corporate office and have been remote workers for the past 15 years. Prior to the pandemic, many of our local employees have taken advantage of our work from home benefit, which is part of our Work Perx program. However, shifting 90% of our workforce to remote operations within less than a week’s time is another thing altogether. We may find now that some of our DRG employees will want to continue working from home for at least part of their work week. If so, they won’t be alone. In fact, according to research from Global Workplace Analytics, an estimated 25%-30% of the U.S. workforce will be working from home one or more days a week by the end of 2021. There’s much to be said for the additional flexibility in being able to work from home. However, we look forward to the time when we can work together again from our corporate office, while still enjoying the freedom to work from home, but by choice.

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