Remote work has become the new normal for many of us in 2020, and it brings a host of unfamiliar challenges and unexpected benefits. At Vera, we are doing our best to provide our care teams and field support employees the support they need to navigate a new work environment.

Remote work can have huge benefits. Beyond keeping people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work can lead to higher productivity by giving people the space they need to focus. Combined with the right technology, it can also allow for more collaboration.

But remote work poses real challenges too.  Remote work has made it more difficult for many people to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It’s also made it more difficult for employees to connect with each other — water cooler conversations now seem like a distant memory.

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We recognize that remote work takes some getting used to, and we believe the best way to support our employees is to listen to their needs and respond with solutions.  Now that our field support employees are working 100% remotely and our care center employees are providing both in-person and virtual care to our members, we’re committed to making the work-from-home experience better for every employee. We recently conducted a survey of our employees so we could get to work on their concerns.

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Keeping connections strong

One of our employees’ biggest concerns about remote work was lack of connection

So we’re working with our managers to create opportunities for their teams to find creative ways to connect, whether through virtual lunches and happy hours, outdoor social distancing activities between small groups, acknowledging or celebrating employees over virtual team meetings, or encouraging 1on1 check-ins. Every team is different, so we encourage managers to get to know their own team’s preferences. 

The same goes for employees who are joining a new project team or a new program. Connection is worth the extra time and effort. Strong team (and human) relationships are essential to moving forward in work environments — pandemic or no pandemic. 

Keeping communication open

Another important concern for our employees was communication. We learned from them that remote work can create barriers. That’s one reason why we’re being so intentional about making sure we keep communication open. 

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Another aspect of open communication is addressing employees’ questions and concerns. In a year of so many unexpected changes, it’s all the more important that everyone has time set aside with their team leader to talk through their concerns and expectations. Employees need to be heard, and we’re here to listen and overcome challenges, together.

We want to fully support all our employees to do well and do good — and that means engaging with them to find out what support they need. We rely on their feedback to adapt and improve.

One practical way that we make space for communication is with regular 1on1  conversations between employees and managers. This is a time for people to check in, ask questions, get support, connect, and talk about their career goals.

All team members also participate in monthly organization-wide virtual meetings and receive a monthly employee newsletter that covers company updates. These forums provide an opportunity for us to connect as a whole team and to share what’s going on across the company. We also engage with team members through anonymous feedback surveys, our recent employee voice sessions, and quarterly Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to identify ways we can continue to improve. 

Keeping mental health in mind

Employees identified boundaries as another challenge. Working from home can make it more difficult to maintain a work-life balance, which can contribute to stress and burnout. It’s important that employees can set boundaries between work and home, even when work is at home.

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Vera Whole Health is dedicated to loving those we serve — not only our patients but our employees as well. We’re committed to giving our employees the resources they need to take care of their mental and emotional health while they’re working from home, especially during a global pandemic.

In addition to mental health and telehealth access, we’ve been offering a 12-week mindfulness program to give employees the opportunity to stop, breathe, and observe. It’s a simple way to support our employees emotionally, and they appreciate it:

“I love the weekly Mindful Moments! These moments are a great way to begin and end the week. Sometimes it's tempting to think, "I'm too busy to join today, I'll grab the next one," but I'm always thankful when I prioritize these sessions. I come away feeling calmer and more centered and having learned something to use in my daily life. I'm so grateful to work at a company that values mindfulness and promotes opportunities to practice it." — Nancy Doren, Instructional Designer in Learning & Development

Keeping the future in focus

As we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re also thinking to the future. Now that our field support employees are working 100% remotely, we’re making plans to provide them with a more flexible physical space for them to share when they need it. That space will be designed around what they need — whether that’s office space, meeting areas, or a venue for team retreats. 

As we continue to adapt to the challenges of remote work, our employees’ feedback will shape our solutions. Together, we’ll build a better workplace.

If this sounds like the kind of team you want to be a part of, explore our open positions and apply today!

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