Starting a new job, at a new organization, typically comes with some nervousness and uncertainty. But what if you were going from a traditional office-based work environment to one where going to work simply meant staying home and turning on your computer. Gina Tonello, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield communications analyst who provides support to Chief Administration Officer Lisa White, experienced this when she joined Excellus BCBS earlier this year.
The journey begins
Her journey began by applying online, followed by an interview conducted using Microsoft Teams. “I had no trouble applying or interviewing remotely,” explains Gina. “My interviewers made sure to make the process simple by sending me an easy link that worked on the first try.” Gina found the process of applying online easier than the traditional method of sending in paper copies of a resume and cover letter. Her journey began by applying online, followed by an interview conducted using Microsoft Teams. “I had no trouble applying or interviewing remotely,” explains Gina. “My interviewers made sure to make the process simple by sending me an easy link that worked on the first try.” Gina found the process of applying online easier than the traditional method of sending in paper copies of a resume and cover letter.
After accepting the position, Gina received an invite to attend two remote onboarding sessions. “The two-day onboarding process was intimidating but it always is, whether in person or online,” notes Gina who is a member of the Excellus BCBS Corporate Communications Department. “I was especially nervous to set up my equipment alone, but I was sent very explicit instructions that were basically no-fail, which included a phone number for unexpected challenges, but I didn’t encounter any.”
Adapting to technology
Technology is vital when working in a hybrid environment. Excellus BCBS relies on email and Microsoft Teams to communicate, and Microsoft SharePoint to share information across the organization and work collaboratively. “I was nervous because I had never worked remotely before and did not know Teams, nor was I familiar with SharePoint,” says Gina. She relied on assistance and advice from the training team to quickly bring her up to speed on these technologies. She also worked in person alongside her teammate, Excellus BCBS Central New York Communications Manager Ted Byrnes, once a week, to perfect her use of the technology and receive support in her new role. “My coworkers are so accommodating and will go above and beyond when I have questions,” says Gina.
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of a hybrid work environment is establishing connections with fellow employees. “My manager, Aida Byrne, director, communications and regional markets, set up multiple one-on-one sessions with people I would need to get to know as soon as possible,” recalls Gina. “I found these one-on-one meetings to be an amazing gift.”
Dedicating time to get to know fellow employees was a new experience for Gina and she felt that in some ways she formed better connections online than she had previously in person. “I’ve done about 50 one-on-ones in the three months I’ve worked for the company.”
The beauty of a hybrid work environment is that it blends remote work with in-person opportunities. “My fourth day on the job was taco day in the office,” remembers Gina. “I went into the office and got to meet my manager and some of my co-workers in person. I was also able to meet and talk with Excellus BCBS President & CEO Jim Reed.” Gina typically spends one day each week working in the office and attends in person team meetings. “While I love working remotely, meeting with coworkers in person is always rewarding.”
With prompting from her manager, Gina quickly dove into a project that allowed her to meet the leadership within her division. “I was getting constant feedback and advice my first few weeks,” notes Gina. “My experience has been terrific. I’ve been trained on the platforms I need to know and where to find online trainings or who to call when I need help.”
For employees who are new to the hybrid environment, Gina says, “The best tip I have is to do one-on-ones. They can be intimidating and nerve wracking, but I was never sorry at the end of each half hour meeting.”
A hiring manager’s perspective
Changing from the traditional method of face-to-face interviews and in person onboarding can also be challenging for the hiring manager. Having a plan, getting support, and knowing where to find resources are vital to successful onboarding in a hybrid environment.
Aida Byrne, director, communications and regional markets, walks us through her experience hiring and onboarding Gina. “I think that with any onboarding, the leader needs to be prepared to spend a great deal of time getting them acclimated into the organization, division, department, and direct team,” shares Aida. “It’s important to make time for daily check-ins to level set things for a new hire. Being there to answer Gina’s questions or to find the right person to answer them, helped put her at ease and feel more comfortable in her new role.”
Aida turned to some of the many resources available from the Excellus BCBS Human Resources Department to help guide her through the process. She also sought out advice and support from others on the team who had been through the process of hiring a new employee in the hybrid environment.
In addition to daily check-ins, she set up meetings between Gina and key team members ahead of time to get her kick-started with connections that she would need. She encouraged in-office time with team members based in her local office in Central New York. “I made sure she felt connected by inviting her to team meetings right from the start and engaging her in conversations – both work-related and social,” recalls Aida.
Simplify with a plan
Starting a new position can feel overwhelming especially when it requires you to learn new technology and adjust to a new work environment. To help ease the burden, Aida reminded her to take one day at a time and chunk out her work. “She had a 30-60-90-day plan to start her off so she knew what needed to be addressed at the start and then could look long-term for other projects,” says Aida. “Putting some simple things in her 30-day plan also helped… getting her trainings done, meeting her team members, understanding the technology she would be using.”
Make space for conversation
Leveraging the hybrid aspect of the Excellus BCBS work environment, Aida and Gina benefited from in person meetings. “We spent Tuesdays in the office in CNY together which tend to be the busiest days with other employees,” explains Aida. “We had lunch together, spent time meeting one-on-one, and had great casual conversations that allowed us to get to know one another.”
To learn more about the hybrid work environment at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield visit the careers page.
Are you looking to take the next step in your career and make a difference in others’ lives?
We have the right fit for you. Positions are available in many departments including Customer Care, Operational Excellence, Marketing and Sales, Information Technology, and more. Check us out at careers.excellusbcbs.com. Get to know our people and our values, and grow your relationship with us. For more information, reach out to Director of Talent Acquisition Jason Helsdon at Jason.Helsdon@excellus.com.
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