Moving to virtual working for 4,000 employees… and seeing the benefits of it
So much has changed in the past three weeks. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency, we’ve mobilised almost 4,000 employees to work from home, enhanced online customer support capabilities and rapidly expanded our in-demand telehealth teams.
At the heart of any decision we’ve made during this time has been the health and wellbeing of our people, our customers and the community.
In the past few weeks:
We have become a virtual business with our people working from home
We’ve remotely recruited, onboarded and trained more than 500 health professionals to join our telehealth teams
We’re establishing new telehealth services with health providers to replace face-to-face consultations
We’ve ramped up our digital customer service tools, with daily live chat sessions doubling
We’re working so differently, and while our people have had to adapt quickly and work through some challenges, it’s led to some unexpected benefits.
We’re collaborating better. Teams are coming together to make decisions and get things done more quickly to respond to customer and community needs
One of our earliest challenges – on top of moving our whole workforce to remote working – has been expanding our telehealth team. Like no other event in our time, this team of health professionals are playing a crucial role in supporting the public via a range of coronavirus helplines, receiving in excess of 12,000 calls a day from across the country. We’ve had to be more flexible in the tech devices we’ve giving to new employees and the logistics involved in quickly onboarding and training over 500 health professionals remotely across Australia has encouraged our teams to work together to find new solutions quickly, while testing the boundaries of our procurement system.
Our customer support teams are among those who typically work in the office or in our stores. But with customers wanting to keep their distance, they’ve been quick to respond, increasing our call and live chat service capabilities to replace face-to-face service. Now that we’ve temporarily closed our retail stores for the health and wellbeing of our people and our customers, our in-store team members are supporting customers from home via these digital tools.
We’re building on the strong basics already in place and are getting more creative
Our existing flexible working culture (#FlexBetter) meant that we not only already had the tools to work remotely, our teams and people leaders also already had some established practices and ways of working to support flexible ways of working. Network capability was increased earlier this month and testing took place to ensure it could support the increased bandwidth before the move to all-company remote working was made.
Our technology and operations team were able to increase our remote capabilities quickly, thanks to continuity planning over the past two years which also ensured governance, regulatory and privacy requirements were maintained. Our people leaders and senior leaders are doing more check-ins with their teams more regularly and making ‘real-time’ adjustments to support our people working from home. Existing tools like Yammer, Skype, Zoom and Teams are being far better utilised and individual teams from across the business have found unique ways to stay connected while working virtually including walking brainstorms, virtual whiteboarding, daily health and wellbeing challenges.
Taking lessons from the new normal
There is an acceptance that, for now, this is the new norm of working. So, in addition to the practices and support we’ve had in place to support those working remotely, our people and their people leaders have also been provided with advice on how to work when all the family are home. We’re setting realistic expectations and know that they may need to be adjusted. It’s also why customers calling us may now be asked to excuse the noise of the kids or the dog in the background (but rest assured, we’re maintaining privacy).
We’re more caring towards our colleagues and building a stronger Medibank community
Underlying everything we’ve done has been a strong focus on the health and wellbeing of our people, including keeping people connected. From live chats with the CEO and senior leaders on Yammer (our internal social platform), to regular team check-ins and updates, our people have found many creative ways to come together from a distance. People are taking more time to check in on each other, getting to know so much more about their co-workers and their lives outside of work.
The challenges of COVID-19 have been many but it has delivered unexpected benefits as well. It has led us to be quicker, more adaptable and more collaborative – big positive changes that we will take forward with us in a post COVID-19 workplace. Who ever knew that enforced self-isolation could lead to such a sense of community?