As companies nationwide continue to iron out their hybrid-work policies, Blue Shield of California is embracing a common-sense approach. The organization has decentralized decision-making, allowing managers and their teams to determine the right mix of working remotely versus going into the office.
“We’re relying on our teams to self-organize and decide when it’s beneficial to come in,” said Haley Mixon, Blue Shield’s chief human resources officer. “Coming out of the pandemic, it’s a new working world, and we feel a hybrid approach offers significant benefits in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction.”
While some employees commute to the office once a month to once a week or more, others prefer to go in almost every day – and they can.
One group of employees who have consistently been working remotely are Blue Shield of California’s 1,200 customer service employees. Given the nature of their work and the time they spend on the phone, this role can generally be done successfully while remote.
Whether working remotely or in the office, employees are thriving
“Blue Shield believes that there are certain activities that lend themselves to being in person – collaboration, co-creation, learning and development to name a few,” Mixon said. ”When we are learning, its valuable to make peer-to-peer connections, hear stories from colleagues, and learn about different experiences and points of view But we also learned that employees are successfully navigating the remote-work model, so we want to keep that in place as well to help employees maintain balance and connection.”
For example, in 2022 Blue Shield’s customer service satisfaction rate was 89% – meaning nearly nine out of 10 customers who called a representative were satisfied with how the call went. That’s a 14% increase from 2019, before the pandemic started.
Other measures also indicate a happier workforce. In Blue Shield’s annual employee survey, satisfaction rose to 90% in 2022, up from 83% in 2019. The survey also found 91%of Blue Shield employees felt they were able to take time off from work when they thought it was necessary.
“It’s gratifying to be able to give employees the flexibility they need while still successfully meeting the needs of the business,” said Mixon.
National data has dovetailed with what Blue Shield has seen. In a 2022 Gallup survey of about 8,000 remote-capable employees, 71% listed the top advantage as having an improved work-life balance.
Adapting to changing times
COVID-19 left a seismic impact on the traditional conceptions of workspaces, and the “where, when and how” of work itself, Mixon noted.
“Back in March 2020, when businesses were shutting down, schools were closing, and social events were canceled, Blue Shield sent the workforce home while continuing its operations,” Mixon said. “And in four days, the entire organization was up and running from home.”
Three years later, with COVID-19 and employees in a different place, figuring out a policy that works for Blue Shield’s diverse employee population has become a tall task, and one that Mixon and her team do not take lightly. For example, they needed to create a safe and healthy work environment for Blue Shield’s medical staff and essential workers who need to be on site to complete their work, while also accommodating the corporate communications manager who can readily perform the day’s tasks from home.
“People want flexibility, and we know most employees and potential hires are looking for this work trait in their employers,” Mixon said. “We remain committed to balancing business needs with the needs of our people, prioritizing health and safety, and being a great place to do meaningful work.”
Explore your next career move on the Blue Shield of California Careers page.