Connecting Business Episode 1: Keeping Business Connected in a Remote Work Environment
Clark provides his insight into how Kinetic by Windstream rapidly moved to a remote work environment as the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to support the communications and IT security needs of hundreds of employees who are working from home. All of this while maintaining an amazing culture and boosting productivity.
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Here are some of the highlights:
Munoz: For someone who doesn't know you or your position, first to start with what do you do? Kinetic Inside Sales, what do you do here?
Clark: I'm very fortunate to have a few hundred employees of exceptional team members. They're truly the lifeblood of my business. We handle all of the inside sales for consumer and business, and account management as well. We manage our base. We operate in a multi-call center environment in Charlotte, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; and Cornelia, Georgia.
Munoz: Okay. So here you are moving along. Things are going great and, bam, COVID hits. It really threw everybody into a tailspin. Take us through what that was like for you. Then we're going to transition to how you responded at this crazy time for all businesses. But, what was it like for you guys?
Clark: You know, Christina, the number one concern of us, and any company, should be the safety of your employees and their families. COVID-19 was a knockout punch that was felt across the entire world. Once you absorb the initial shock, it's time to react and put plans in motion, remediation plans. You have to look at your position and make the best decision, keeping your people in mind, first of all. But then you also have to run the business in parallel as well, because you still have to run your business.
[ … ] we provide a service that quickly became one of the most coveted services to American families. When the governors began to initiate stay-at-home orders across the country, the internet became a paramount vehicle to continue online education for the children, and it was a crucial mechanism for the workers that were displaced because they could not go into work. We saw a tremendous shift to remote work, and in our strategy, had to meet that demand because the spread of COVID in the first wave, it hit everyone hard.
To be honest with you, we couldn't shut down. Right? We have to serve the public. In my own opinion, I believe that serving the public is just as important as public service, which means you can't shut down, and you can't shut off.
Munoz: You know, it's funny. When you think of essential workers, it may not be at the top of your list. You think emergency and healthcare, but all the work that was going remote and online cannot be done without this. So, really, absolutely essential.
How are you training them? We all went home and worked from home, but you've got kids and you've got dogs and you've got things going on. How do we train them to make sure they're taking care of their customers — all from home?
Clark: We had to be very methodical with that approach. We had to ask overtime for our employees, and they were willing to give it because they understood how essential that we were to getting through this initial phase of COVID without knowing how long it's going to last, without really having any specifics on how it worked. They always knew that we had their best interests in mind as well. When you know someone has your best interests in mind, you don't mind going the extra mile. You don't mind doing the things that it's going to take for both parties to get it done.
Munoz: Okay. We're going to look forward now. You've learned a lot and you've shared a lot. We've been doing this for quite a while now. What do you see moving forward? Do we go back to what we had done? Do we continue doing what we're doing?
Clark: Well, we continue to stay remote and we continue to do what we're doing today. Our decision to stay in the work-from-home environment, it's going to be beneficial. We don't know how long we're going to be in this environment with COVID. But post-COVID, we will stay in our work-from-home environment.
From the ability to be able to attract the top talent that's out there, from the fact that we've shown there's no degradation in performance... Matter of fact, we've actually been able to increase our performance, and we really can look long-term and say, "Hey, how can we save on real estate costs?" Because we don't need as much seating as we have had in the past. It really helps from a company perspective, as well.
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