COVID-19 tests remote work capacity


CCM Health, a medical center based in Montevideo, Minn., shares continual COVID-19 updates from management and caregivers; daily emails to all employees about census, staffing, access and other stats; bi-weekly organizational updates from the CEO; and marketing communications that include facility updates as well as monthly department meeting recordings.

“We feel the key is through extensive and continuous communication,” said Kelly Johnson, CCM’s human resources manager.

Even though CereCore, which supports providers’ IT needs, initially saw its business decline, it kept more staff on than needed to help people transition to the new working environment, said Curtis Watkins, CereCore’s CEO.

They doubled down on personal check-ins, but managers had to strike a balance between checking in periodically and not overwhelming employees, he said.

“From an HR perspective, we try to treat people with grace and understanding,” Watkins said. “We were careful not to overdo it because people don’t want to feel like they always have somebody over their shoulder. So we made it personal, asking about their family or kids and had to be clear that this is about staying connected, not micromanaging.”

Ultimately, COVID-19 accelerated the Nashville-based company’s move to more remote work. Watkins expects about an 80%-to-20% ratio of remote to in-person work over the long term, up from around 60% to 40%. It will likely downsize its real estate footprint by about a third, Watkins said.

“It has been an interesting journey, and it is something we will try to figure out and get better at,” he said, adding that the biggest long-term challenge is around the void of face-to-face interaction between its senior level administrative team. “We need to find ways to build that teamwork and trust.”

Advocate Aurora launched its first ever virtual professional development initiative. To Brady’s surprise, about 40% of its leadership team tuned in to some of the 30 sessions.

“It is part of how this whole process drove more innovation,” he said.

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