Our goal at EBI is to always advocate for your business goals.
In that light, we’re sharing a series of blogs about what we’ve learned, what went well, and where we could improve during this pandemic.
This second installment features insight from EBI’s Information Technology, Implementation, and Marketing departments. You’ll find that each department had its own unique set of challenges to work through.
We understand what worked for us, may not work for you. But we hope that by showing you our process of learning, you will be empowered to develop your own policies, protocols, and procedures that will propel you forward in our new economy.
“We went from a very small percentage of the world working virtually to practically everyone. Kudos to our IT infrastructure.” – Sam Ransbotham, professor of information technology at Boston College
Equipment Investment Pays Off
Back in January, we first heard about COVID-19 and its potential to cause a lockdown when we were reading news updates and technical IT blogs. We then looked at all our inventory and the existing equipment we had. Although we already had a migration to laptops in our Continuity of Operations Plan, and had been migrating employees to laptops for the past 3-4 years, the potential disruption of COVID-19 sped up our plans. We requested leadership’s permission to purchase the remaining laptops we’d need to accomplish our migration – we really feared once a lockdown happened, we wouldn’t be able to find enough laptops – and thankfully they greenlit our request.
Our initial plan to migrate employees to laptops really spurred from a business continuity mindset. We wanted to be able to deploy remote workers in case of an emergency like a snowstorm, or loss of internet at our headquarters. Never did we imagine needing to deploy our workforce so quickly. We’d been kind of working up to that ability for the past few years, even though we didn’t know there was going to be a pandemic.
Employee Training Eases Burden
Once we had equipment in house, but before the lockdown started, we began training employees on how to use their laptops, hardware and software VPNs, and other equipment that might be necessary to their specific role at EBI. We coordinated with managers of various departments and did small batch training while employees were still working at headquarters. Then we started sending about 15-30 people at a time home and stress testing the system and their comfort level with operating the equipment. Once the official lockdown was in place by the local government, we were pretty much good to go.
About 10 days into the lockdown, we conducted a staff survey. We wanted to know about their remote work experience, technology issues and support, and how their productivity was being impacted, if at all. But when the pandemic hit, we had a lot of equipment and controls in place.
“You don’t get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on actions that produce results.” – Mike Hawkins, Author
With disruption comes an opportunity to contribute and be part of a stronger EBI. Implementation is a disciplined team. Until mid-March our daily morning standups were focused on status updates. These days, we take a casual approach to our Friday video calls – we chat about house projects, children, fur babies, food, and local outings and adventures.
It has been genuinely rewarding to witness team members raise opportunities where they are willing to own and lead a project from infancy to completion. I used this time as an opportunity to ensure my team practiced self-care, first and foremost. I encouraged them to carve out daily time on their calendars to step away.
Over the past 18 months we’ve implemented a host of efficiencies to meet the needs of our customers and cross functional teams. Our strategy has since shifted. Rather than spreading attention to address every operational request, we have directed all our attention to account builds. We’ve expanded our agile principles. We are now uber focused on providing a seamless onboarding experience.
“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen.”
– Richard Branson, Founder and CEO of Virgin
Active Listening Provides Value
The strategy has evolved very rapidly throughout the crisis, adapting as fast as possible to the current climate. Background screening covers every type of business so while some of our clients were surge hiring to meet demand, others were not even allowed to open, let alone hire. We had to listen, learn, and respond to their changing needs. For example, this meant we needed to pivot away from our planned content strategy and deliverables, and begin producing blog posts, videos, roundtables, and webinars that delivered value, substance, and meaningful solutions for businesses facing this new pandemic environment.
Operations Plans are Critical
Internally, I learned that having a functional remote process beforehand was tremendously beneficial. Luckily, EBI functions remotely daily, with over 25% of our staff remote, so the impact to our daily operations was minimal. I have many colleagues who work for companies that previously did not encourage working remotely, and some that didn’t even allow it. When this crisis struck, even though IT was able to shift to remote capability, the staff fumbled, having to re-learn how to effectively work and communicate together remotely.
I’ve been surprised at finding out how alike everyone’s life is through the abundance of remote work. I have met more pets, children, and significant others than I could have ever imagined. Whereas this would have previously been highly frowned upon in a remote work environment for most, I saw broad acceptance as everyone found themselves in the same position. And, as opposed to being detrimental to productivity, I was surprised to see how it often broke the ice and made meetings with new clients and vendors more productive and natural. This is a sentiment I genuinely I hope continues, as the workforce continues to become more and more remote friendly in the years to come.
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Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.