Updated: Nov 9, 2020
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States in early March, the specialty medical services startup Faebris was in the process of renovating a new office space. Given its focus on infectious diseases, with an emphasis on patients with HIV/AIDS whose immune systems are already weakened, the Atlanta-based company knew it needed to move quickly to get its office up and running while also reconsidering how to connect with patients given widespread stay-at-home orders and risks of exposure.
“When everything shut down, we had to really rethink how we would service patients with so many limitations and barriers,” says Dr. Zan Tims-Cook, a physician at Faebris.
It’s a challenge shared by many companies as the pandemic continues to affect the way the world operates, making it imperative that businesses are set up to be agile and ready to shift in step with external forces at a moment’s notice. In order to prepare your company for nimble transitions, it’s vital to ramp up your technological footprint, rethink your meetings and reevaluate your project management.
Ramp Up Employee Technology
To thrive during Covid-19, businesses must rely on technology to bridge the gap created by social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines. With its new office space incomplete and computer-free, Faebris needed to move quickly to implement a digital system that would allow staff to collect and protect critical patient information while also providing patients with the option of virtual consultations whenever possible.
Finding that computers were backordered almost everywhere, Dr. Tims-Cook finally turned to the tech services provider CompuCom, an Office Depot affiliate company, which quickly set up an in-office computer system complete with the right licenses for securities and compliance that are vital to helping protect private patient information. Patients could now register for appointments online without compromising their privacy. CompuCom also set up a direct service line for Faebris to call at any time of day in case issues came up.
“They implemented things I’d never even thought about us needing—complex systems that they knew would benefit the practice in the long run,” said Dr. Tims-Cook.
While the medical profession has distinct needs, technology is paramount for all companies today, many of which have employees working from home and relying on their personal tech to keep daily operations running smoothly. To help remote workers set up an environment equivalent to an in-office environment, consider offering your employees a stipend to purchase products like a WiFi range extender and wireless keyboard to increase productivity levels, for instance. It’s also helpful to review your company’s cloud storage and internal communications hub to make sure they’re optimized for efficiency. For companies without an IT department, or for those that simply need extra hands on deck, Office Depot’s Tech Services team provides seamless in-home installation or tech support subscriptions for tech services via phone on the fly.
Rethink Your Meetings
With many in-person meetings migrating to video chat, the pandemic is providing businesses with an opportunity to rethink which ones are really necessary and the different ways they can be held in a pandemic-free future. In the case of Faebris, this meant shifting to a partial telemedicine model via a digital health platform—one they hadn’t used before and weren’t sure would work.
While some infections require in-person analysis, said Dr. Tims-Cook, the pandemic allowed her and her colleagues to see that “medicine can be practiced in a remote fashion”—a fact that’s helpful not just during the current crisis but also as the future unfolds, especially for patients who don’t have the time or resources for frequent office visits, for instance. This prompted Faebris to consider an evolved, more efficient way of serving patients.
For other companies, today’s challenges could also offer an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on which weekly meetings are truly productive. Those that seem to regurgitate messages and project plans already explained via email might be better kept off the schedule, for example, resulting in more time for employees to focus on daily work and fine-tune their skills. Consolidating the amount of meetings you schedule each week can save time and avoid redundancies, making those you do have more intentional, fruitful and focused on the creative and strategic growth that will benefit the company.
Reevaluate Project Management
While working from home can help highlight organizational inefficiencies that may have already existed, it can also exacerbate weaknesses if a company doesn’t implement smart solutions. This is especially true when it comes to project management, which becomes more imperative when the distractions of home are inevitable—be it a partner, children or the simple allure of browsing social media. Encouraging your team to stay aware of and on track with approaching deadlines is key to a healthy work-from-home culture.
“As a busy professional, you sometimes want to offload the thinking and doing to someone who can think it through even better than you can,” explains Dr. Tims-Cook.
Enter the project manager: If you have one or more on your team already, encourage those staff members to survey employees about what methods work best for staying on top of projects while at home. For companies without project managers or the bandwidth to hire one, consider task-tracking apps that allow all employees to view and update project timelines.
With the steady flow of in-office conversation on pause, it can also be helpful to have managers institute more regular check-ins via video chat or phone with their direct reports to help prevent some things from getting lost in the shuffle. The result is less employee confusion and increased productivity, leading to a business that’s more efficient and collaborative as we work through today’s challenges of the pandemic and succeed in the future.