Let's face it; no person or entity truly knows where the COVID-19 pandemic will hurtle humanity next. That being said, it is probably safe to assume that it won't careen us back to a 9-to-5 lifestyle tied to a particular location. That whole situation feels like a relic of a bygone era. A fever dream.
Instead, companies like Vytalize Health have adapted to become fully remote. The flexibility of working from home allowed Vytalize to acquire talents regardless of their geographical location. So how does Vytalize maintain a rich corporate culture and keep its employees connected? Here are a few words from our leaders.
Why did you choose to remain a remote-first company?
“The safety of Vytalizers is paramount to us, and the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. A single Vytalizer could easily be responsible for 200-300 Medicare lives, and that means we must do everything in our power to avoid a domino-style progressive collapse by making sure our caregivers are working in a safe environment,” said Faris Ghawi, Founder & CEO.
“Furthermore, Vytalize emphasizes remote services to provide access for patients everywhere. So the quality and quantity of our services are primarily unaffected by working wholly remotely. Travel costs and long commutes have become a thing of the past for us, which has generally improved productivity and paved the path for higher quality work as Vytalizers can work comfortably and reliably.”
Building a strong company culture is particularly crucial with remote work. The convergence of values and goals takes time, painful triaging, and commitment, even before you add the obstacle of physical separation. It's difficult, but the sky's the limit once you get to a place where your team is truly aligned.
“For Vytalize, company culture single-handedly drives accountability and ownership and is one of the main differentiators between us and our competition. What Vytalize does takes dedication and relentlessness, so it is imperative to build a team that shares an unrivaled passion for providing true, effective value for our patients.” Added Karim Ghawi, VP Growth & Project Development Manager.
How would you describe the company culture at Vytalize Health?
“Whether we’re talking about a country, company, or person, culture derives from pursued values. At Vytalize, our principal values include teamwork, compassion, intelligence, and, perhaps most importantly, drive.” Said Karim Ghawi.
“Ultimately, our goal is to provide a primary care landscape that places patients and their health at the forefront. That means solving complex multidisciplinary problems that have never even been tackled before. Working for Vytalize entails working smarter and harder, as nothing else will fix our broken healthcare system, which currently rewards quantity over quality. That takes drive. That takes passion. Speak with any of my Vytalize colleagues, and I guarantee you will see these values shine through.”
Even with the firm belief of many in the remote working culture, such as Facebook’s new virtual reality work platform Horizons Workrooms, the work-from-home narrative sparked controversy in the corporate world. Some companies argue that it is doubtful for an enterprise to succeed and maintain a healthy work culture online, stressing that human interaction is the key to success in the workplace.
Many businesses now have access to the resources and solutions needed to make remote work practical and effective. We turned to Michelle Morataya, our Human Resources Coordinator, for more information.
How do you maintain the corporate culture? How do you keep your employees feeling connected?
“Zoom, Google Meets, Google Hangouts, and Slack are our best friends! We maintain the culture by ensuring our employees feel connected and are transparent when it comes to important company updates, done through weekly company meetings on Zoom. To maintain individual team/department connectivity, we encourage managers to conduct check-in meetings with their team frequently.
We also utilize a performance review platform where employees can stay intimately connected - we think of it as social media for work. Team members can provide a list of work priorities, the opportunity to share how they are feeling at work, and how they felt their workload was each week. It also allows them to touch on optional questions relating to what went well for them, and any challenges they are facing that need to be addressed.
The best part is that all these responses go directly to their managers to ensure any areas of concern are promptly addressed. We also celebrate the personal achievements of employees to remain connected. For example, we send gifts of appreciation from the Vytalize team, whether it be a huge life milestone, such as a marriage, pregnancy or a birthday, to ensure employees are cared about personally and professionally.”
Virtual teams, in principle, allow companies to create an outstanding team without constraints. It provides staff with the autonomy and flexibility they need to achieve the right balance between work and life. With all the perks that accompany virtual companies, there are challenges.
What is the biggest challenge of running a virtual company?
“There are many pitfalls to working wholly remotely, some of which we have fallen into and consequently climbed out of. However, I would emphasize allocation as the most difficult challenge we have to deal with,” said Faris Ghawi.
“By working in a shared physical environment, people’s strengths and weaknesses become much more apparent. When that occurs, tasks and projects may be broken up and distributed according to each team member’s strength(s), leading to a superior overall result.
It is far more challenging to do this remotely, as your ability to demonstrate your strengths is limited to the amount of “stage time” you receive in meetings, emails, and all other modes of communication. However, not everyone receives equal “stage time,” and some individuals are far more outspoken than others, inevitably leading to underrepresentation of some team members at the expense of others.
In other words, this means that working remotely can be biased towards elements of an individual’s character, as opposed to an individual’s work ethic and results.”
It is safe to say that the pandemic created a paradigm shift in the corporate world, with virtual workspaces allowing businesses to be seen on a global scale.
Many companies have grown larger and stronger despite the geographical constraints due to the new working system. The flexibility of remote work turned into an opportunity; businesses are extending their personnel more than ever to recruit talented individuals from all around the world. More precisely, the number of remote workers has increased by 115 percent from the previous decade.
While 2020 may be considered the year of remote work, it is just the beginning.