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Work from Anywhere: Rethinking Where and How We Work Best

For many Highmark Health team members, the “old” way of working before March 2020 came to a screeching halt when the COVID-19 pandemic sent office workers everywhere home to work remotely.

Although the pandemic brought many uncertainties, one unintended outcome was evidence of how effective people could be while working off-site, often with higher productivity, less stress, and greater satisfaction. Recognizing this, the organization created a cross-functional team to work out the many details and questions around designing and implementing a new Work from Anywhere approach. The team has been led by Cindy Donohoe, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Highmark Health. In the videos below, she provides a “tour” of the new approach ahead of welcoming more team members on-site beginning October 4, 2021.

Introducing Work from Anywhere

Work from Anywhere has three clear priorities: Our customers come first, business needs must be met, and team members must be empowered. Just as Highmark Health is reimagining the health experience with its innovative Living Health model, the enterprise has reimagined the work experience to be more adaptable and flexible.

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Hello. I’m Cindy Donohoe, EVP and chief marketing officer for Highmark Health, where we are working hard to create a world where everyone embraces health.

I’m excited to introduce Highmark Health’s new Work from Anywhere approach.

The COVID-19 pandemic really broadened our viewpoint on what’s possible when it comes to the work experience. Work from Anywhere will shift the Highmark Health culture and ways of working to be more flexible, and to support Highmark Health’s innovative Living Health model. Just as Living Health reimagines what the health experience should be, we reimagined what work should be.

At the simplest level, let’s reduce stress, improve productivity, and boost motivation. Let’s emphasize impact and outcomes, not activities and outputs. Let’s focus on helping our people be at their best, personally and professionally, whether they work onsite, offsite, or a bit of both.

To enable high-performing hybrid teams, as well as meet our strategic goals, Work from Anywhere has three clear priorities: our customers come first; business needs must be met; and team members must be empowered. With these priorities, we trust teams and individuals to determine how and where they work best. The added flexibility will reduce stress and burnout, and help people stay motivated. It also allows us to recruit diverse people with unique perspectives and expertise from across the country.

To build something as bold as Living Health, and overcome the many challenges in our industry, we need people who are purposeful, engaged, and excited to get up each day and make a difference. By putting trust in our team members and emphasizing employee wellness, Work from Anywhere creates a remarkable health experience, freeing our people to be their best, while keeping the customer at the center of everything we do.

We’re excited to embrace the new approach and see the endless possibilities it will bring.

Collaborate from Anywhere

Highmark Health’s mission is to create a remarkable health experience, freeing people to be their best. Applying that same principle to the work experience, Work from Anywhere will empower people to work when and where they can be their best and serve customers most effectively. That means taking collaboration between on-site and off-site team members to a whole new level.

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To create a remarkable employee experience, freeing our people to be their best, Work from Anywhere will empower our team members to work where and when they’re personally most effective. Some team members have roles that require them to be immersed in our core markets to meet customer and community needs. Others may have more flexibility in their roles, so they could live and work anywhere in the U.S.

With larger portions of team members offsite, nearly all of our collaboration and engagement will be hybrid, with some people being onsite and some people being offsite. This isn’t new — even before the pandemic, many of our people routinely held hybrid meetings with colleagues from other campuses and locations. But part of what we’re doing with Work from Anywhere is taking hybrid collaboration to a whole new level, ensuring that everyone has the same engagement, opportunity and voice, regardless of location.

Some this will be achieved through new technology, and making sure our team members are equipped with all the tools and resources needed to collaborate easily and effectively. For example, utilizing Teams and Zoom has been vital in ensuring a steady flow of communication and operations throughout the pandemic. Moving forward, it will be vital that we continue to embrace this technology that allows us to work better and collaborate from anywhere. It’s inclusive of all team members and where they choose to work.

This is a monumental cultural shift, and it will take time. But we’re excited to see where this transformation takes us. Our core behavior, Trust Working Together, will be more important than ever as we collaborate to achieve shared success for all.

Flexible On-Site Workspaces

Gone are the days of old-school cubicle farms! With Work from Anywhere, Highmark Health recognizes the need to provide flexible on-site workspaces to meet the various needs and work preferences of different team members.

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Work from Anywhere offers the flexibility to let our schedules and work happen when and where it makes the most sense. We trust teams to set their own working norms and use a variety of communication methods and hybrid collaboration models. As we shift our culture, our ways of working will be more blended and nimble to support our Living Health model.

There are roles across our organization that can only be performed onsite due to the nature of their work, like hands-on clinical care, physical security, facilities maintenance, and retail store consultations. Also, many team members simply prefer to work in an office or facility environment.

Whether someone is flex and comes into an office periodically or they’re onsite every day, we’re also making improvements to company workspaces. I’ll show just a couple of examples of what that looks like here in Pittsburgh.

First, we have several aspects of our workspace that are important to those who are flex, including hoteling spaces, lockers, non-assigned comfy seating, and more.

In keeping with our theme of flexibility, I also want to show you different types of workspaces that fit different preferences. For example, here we have more free-form spaces for people who prefer a more social, group environment. And here we have the option of a heads-down, undistracted cubicle space. Team members may also have the option of office equipment like standing desks and movable workstations. More comfort, more flexibility, and easier collaboration.

The thinking that drives all of these changes comes back to creating a remarkable experience, freeing our people to be their best. You know, we have a saying here: Less stress means more life. That’s what we’re doing for our customers, and with Work from Anywhere that’s the goal for our team members as well.

Leading the Change

Cindy Donohoe discusses why she felt called to lead the Work from Anywhere initiative, the use of a blended organizational approach, Agile methods, and human-centered design, and why she thinks Highmark Health is a special place to work.

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I actually volunteered for this project. I did that because — people matter most. As chief marketing officer, I care a lot about the brand and what we stand for and our promise to our customers. But you can’t deliver on that promise, or your strategy, without your people. They need to understand that we are about community, that we are about simplicity, that we are about innovation. They need to experience that every day themselves so they can deliver that to our customers. So, for me, Work from Anywhere was a way to start to do that.

We are a blended organization. So who cares who happens to be leading the initiative? Work from Anywhere is a crossfunctional team at its core. We have people from marketing, and human resources, tax, legal, finance, IT, privacy, security, you name it. We are all in there together. Our functional roles are important to deliver the end result, but we’re working together as one. We use Agile methods, we’re using human-centered design, we’re listening to our employees. So yeah, it’s about people. And I know when you think about that, you think HR is sort of the people department. But aren’t we all? If it’s about our customers, and in order to deliver for our customers, we have to take care of our own people, then that’s all of our jobs. That’s not just HR, that’s everyone, leaders and individual contributors.

We do a lot of projects around here that affect the employee experience — probably thousands of them every year. The thing is we don’t approach them as if they were employee experience projects. We don’t always design for the ideal employee experience. And then, after we think about what is most desirable, we then have to make sure it is viable for the business and feasible to do. So Work from Anywhere took this approach where absolutely every policy, every change, everything we did, we said, what do our team members want, what would be ideal for them? And we based it on our customer experience principles, because, remember, to deliver on the customer experience, our employees need to have the same kind of experience. Our customer experience principles are three: make it simple for me every time; always be there when and where I need you; and fight for what’s in my best interest. And wouldn’t it be great if we made it easy for all of us to do the hard work, if we knew where to find things and it was exactly where we looked for them, and if we knew that someone was taking care of our personal well-being and watching out for us, and it was a psychologically safe and wonderful place to be? That would be a remarkable experience.

I think at Highmark Health we allow people to really fulfill their life purpose. It’s not just about coming to work, it’s not just about getting paid. It’s about understanding the change you want to make in the world and bringing a piece of that with you every single day. We all find personal meaning in the shared purpose. And the shared purpose is to help people embrace health. To do that, we need people who are innovative, thinking a little bit out of the box, a little bit more progressively, because we need to change an industry. Our strategy at its core is to reinvent health, and I feel like we are attracting the kind of people who get inspired by that change, who believe that it is possible. Some of us, people like me, have been in this industry for decades, and frankly we’re fed up. We have seen the problems, we have worked on the problems, it’s time for a change, and this is a wonderful place to make that change.

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Highmark Health and its subsidiaries and affiliates comprise a national blended health organization that employs more than 35,000 people and serves millions of Americans across the country.

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