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Navigating your Virtual Workplace: Expert Insights from Jeff Gasser

Friday, May 15, 2020  
Posted by: Dave Anderson
As HCAA Members navigate healthcare’s new normal, we interviewed a few experts on how they’ve overcome business challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s feature highlights Jeff Gasser, Founder and CEO of Deerwalk, where he discusses the importance of comfortable home office and teamwork.
 
During the past couple weeks, what were some of your challenges your organization has faced? How did you and your team overcome those challenges?
 
The biggest challenge we encountered as an organization was how to successfully transition our workforce to work from home. We have about 330 employees around the world, in 13 different states and two different countries. Because of our geographical distance, we were already accustomed to communicating remotely, so this made the transition a little easier. We’ve increased the use of videoconferencing, going from a couple hundred Zoom meetings per month to over 8,000 a month.
 
What are some of the positive things about our new reality? 
 
For starters, our productivity is up. When you work from home, you often get more done in less time. There’s not all the “water cooler talk” and any meeting, by definition, is necessary. Some of our team members (specifically Sales and Account Management) who are accustomed to frequent work travel have benefitted by being able to spend more time with their family. It’s given them the quality time to really reconnect with their loved ones.
 
 How are you keeping yourself busy in your time away from work?
 
I really miss my gym and am looking forward to the day it reopens. I work out for about an hour each day and have dropped roughly 15 pounds. Integrating exercises I learned at the gym, I’ve developed my own home workout routine using only two dumbbells and a jump rope. I go out in my backyard and do 100 jump ropes, 20 burpees with dumbbells, 35-50 bench press moves, skull crushers with dumbbells, 25 squats, triceps and bicep sets, rows, and shoulder presses. I go through the whole cycle, repeating it five times over. This really helps me keep my sanity. We’ve also done a million spring cleaning projects at home. Looking around my house, there’s not a single project left to do.
 
Do you have any tips or tricks for creating an ideal home office?
 
An ideal home office should be a place you go that gets you away from whatever other activity is going on in the house. You want to make sure there’s no cross-noise or commotion going on that’ll disrupt your workflow. It can be difficult to completely eliminate disruptions as there always seems to be some random noise, like a leaf blower outside, or the doorbell ringing from a FedEx delivery. 
 
Another thing to keep in mind is to try to create a clear point of separation between your work area and living space. For example, it’s best to set up a dedicated working area and to avoid working from the couch or some other place you’d typically go to relax. This helps ensure you maintain a work/life balance because being able to leave your work area at the end of the day sort of simulates walking out of the office, which helps you transition into non-work activities for the evening.
  
What challenges do you see coming up for employees over the next eight weeks? What do you recommend to the members of HCAA as ideas for helping their employees?
 
The challenges vary so much state-by-state. I think this is probably toughest on those who are living alone and those with young children at home. With kids not going back to school, cancelled summer camps, etc., there’s going to continue to be issues with coordinating childcare, particularly for people with young children.
 
For our company specifically, we’re big believers in being in front of people. This means our Sales and Account Management teams travel often and this has been and will continue to be a big adjustment for us. Even when we get to a point where we can travel again, many of our clients and partners may not be at a point where they want us to visit. We all need to be cognizant of the fact that people have different attitudes about this whole thing and are all over the board with how they feel about it. Maintaining a high level of respect and consideration for this will help everyone adjust accordingly.
 
What is the flip side of the challenges? Specifically, what are the opportunities you see as an outcome of the pandemic for how the members of HCAA do business, address culture in their organizations, support employees going forward?
 
It seems like population health management will really be an opportunity for all HCAA members and their employers because it’s pretty clear that if you’re over 65 or you have certain chronic conditions, you’re more at risk of an adverse event than anybody else. Helping clients to identify employees that fall into these categories or are living in a COVID-19 “hotspots” will help employers as they navigate their way back to a “new normal.” And I’m not sure anybody knows what the new normal will be yet. No one really knows what work will look like in the future.

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