Idaho Businesses Adjust to Work-From-Home: A look at Ball Ventures’ response to COVID-19 with CEO Cortney Liddiard
With the new Stay-Home Order taking effect in Idaho, many companies across the state are looking at ways to move their employees to a work-from-home environment. In light of this order, Ball Ventures gained a renewed confidence in the steps we began a few weeks ago as we became concerned about the rapidly-spreading coronavirus. Our management team started on what we considered at the time an extreme scenario of moving our roughly 55 employees from our Ball Ventures main office to a work-from-home setting, despite not knowing what was to come. Now we are glad we did and willing to help others navigate this process.
Prior to mid-March, Ball Ventures had few employees working remotely, with no one doing so exclusively. The possibility of transitioning the entire office to work-from-home required us to quickly turn our attention to researching the myriad of options of how to execute this task. We took some of our most talented and innovate employees off other projects to focus on work-from-home logistics, reasoning that this would lay the groundwork for a possible work-from-home policy.
This process began with a survey to all employees asking simple questions to assess who had reliable internet service at home and what devices employees would be willing to use to supplement office supplies in the short term. We reviewed our inventory of office supplies and made orders for additional equipment to fill in gaps.
We quickly reached out to others who are already pros at working remotely. This included business partners, CEOs and other contacts inside and outside the state of Idaho. We learned some valuable insights to how to make this transition work best for our employees, including recommendations on video conference and project management tools, good practices for handling time-off requests in the event of a COVID-19 diagnosis, even ways to keep employees connected and our culture alive. We also had to consider ways to keep employees safe and able to follow health guidelines while also keeping up regular processes like running mail, gathering necessary signatures and paying bills.
Feeling prepared and confident we were making the right call, the Ball Ventures management team agreed our final day of working in the office would be Monday, March 16th. As of Tuesday, March 17th, our employees were working from home, with each department beginning their first work-from-home day on a video conference call to discuss the transition and return their attention to current projects.
Thus far, I’m happy to report we have had few challenges in adapting to this new way of working. We invested in a business collaboration tool allowing us to video chat with our entire staff, plus invite others to join us for calls, chats, document sharing and other means of communication. We held an informational video conference meeting with the mayor of Idaho Falls, Rebecca Casper, to discuss the response to the health crisis and what businesses like ours can do to help. Having a wellness program has been such a strong part of our company culture for many years; therefore, we prioritized adapting our wellness program with activities employees can do from home. Through our collaboration tool we are able to motivate one another to prioritize nutrition, fitness and wellbeing. We devised processes to help us continue normal business activities, all while keeping our employees safe.
I fully support Governor Brad Little’s Stay-Home Order and believe it is in the best interests of the state and all its citizens. We appreciate those in the position to make these difficult decisions during crisis, and believe this action strikes a balance of protecting the people of Idaho first, but also helps the economy by letting essential businesses continue to operate.
I’ve been impressed with the Ball Ventures employees and how quickly they were able to adjust to working from home. It is encouraging to know we can keep up our work and our commitments to our partners, clients, tenants and communities in which we do business. We hope to be a resource to others in the business community.