Apex Benefits' Response to COVID-19 - Apex Benefits

Apex Benefits’ Response to COVID-19

In an effort to be as transparent as possible and share our practices with clients and other valued partners, the following information documents how Apex is adjusting its business operations in response to COVID-19. This information will be updated as plans evolve.

 

March 17, 2020 | 3pm

Good afternoon. As I shared in Monday’s email update, the leadership team continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation in our nation and the changing conditions. After further consideration of the current environment and the priority of ensuring your safety and helping slow the spread of this virus in our community, we have decided to have employees to work remotely for the foreseeable future. The leadership team will reevaluate this decision on a weekly basis and provide updates as early as possible when a decision to return to the office is made.

Apex has a crisis management plan in place which John and I activated this morning.  There will be a lot of information to share over the coming week to ensure each of us understands how we can manage this transition while ensuring continued strong client service and minimum disruption to our operations.  Here are the key facts to know:

  • Apex offices will remain open until 5pm Friday March 20th.  However, we ask each Apex team member to shift to remote work at the earliest opportunity.  After 5pm Friday, the office will be restricted to a small support staff and exceptions as noted below.
  • All employees are equipped to work remotely using our laptops with VPN access to shared electronic drives and Vonage and Chime for calls and virtual meetings.
  • The IT team will be available to work with employees who have technology questions – especially use of the VPN and Vonage.  They will proactively contact you to confirm you are connected and functioning in your remote location.
  • A small Support Services staff and one VP daily will continue operations at the office – primarily to receive mail and other deliveries, and to provide IT, HR and Finance support unless a government action prohibits travel to the office.
  • If you are a meeting host – especially for meetings at Apex offices involving external guests – please immediately notify meeting participants and shift the meeting to a Chime meeting.
  • If you need to print documents while working remotely, you may print to your home printer (contact IT if you have issues).  If a client requests printed materials, please work with them to determine if you can provide the document(s) electronically instead.  If they require printed materials, you can use the Apex printers on a limited basis.  To do so, please let your manager know when you plan to be at the office.  They will notify the on-site Shared Services team to expect you.  Please work the minimum time onsite that is needed to accomplish the printing/binding work.
  • If you need to take a printed file outside of the office for your work, please ensure it doesn’t contain PHI or other secured information that normally does not leave our office.
  •  Do not print PHI documents. If you are using PHI on your computer, please lock the screen whenever you step away.
  • If a client or prospect asks you to meet them in person, the decision should be made on a case-by-case basis. We encourage you to talk with your manager about any such requests. We expect them to be relatively few as many companies are cancelling such meetings.
  • Our move is still on-schedule for the end of April. If we remain in a remote work status in April, we will provide instructions on when small groups will have access to pack your offices.
  • Managers are your first line of contact for questions and to coordinate activities while we are in remote work status.  If you identify any questions or issues that we need to address to support you, please contact your manager.  The management team will be holding routine calls to ensure we are coordinating and addressing any issues that may arise during this time.

Some additional reminders that still apply from yesterday’s communication:

  • If you feel or are sick and become too ill to work, please update your manager and switch to PTO-Sick Time.
  • For our working parents with school age children please talk with your manager to discuss a workable plan where you can meet your job expectations while being at home. Depending upon the needs of your children, we realize you may not be able to work a consistent workday.  We encourage you to talk with you manager about making up time early or later or over the weekend, or using PTO if you simply cannot make up the time in a given week.
  • If you have business travel scheduled involving airline travel, please review the travel plans with your manager.  Most conferences or other group events are being rescheduled to future dates.  If you have any question about a conference or meeting you are scheduled to attend, please check with the organizers. Unless the travel is business critical, it should be cancelled or postponed at this time.

Team, I am very impressed with the professionalism each of you is displaying on a daily basis and have great confidence that Team Apex will manage this new circumstance very well! Our decision to shift to remote work will be communicated to clients and prospects on Wednesday.

Finally, thanks for all that you do.  These are surreal and challenging times.  I know my kids are asking tough questions and I worry about the unknowns of what might happen next.  If you need additional support, please draw upon the many support resources and services available to each of us.  I’m including some EAP information and encourage you to use their services or other support as you need.

THANK YOU – again – for your amazing commitment to Apex and our clients.

 

March 16, 2020 | 10am

Message to employees:

Our leadership team continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation in our nation and is working to stay ahead of (or at least to quickly respond to) changing conditions.  We are relying on groups like CDC, WHO and other reputable organizations to provide critical information about the ways in which employers can support our team members and help our communities manage the spread of this virus.  We are meeting every 1-2 days to address new information and questions.

This email is intended to provide you with some real-time updates for Apex:

  • Reminder:  If you feel or are sick, please stay home.  This is of critical importance for your safety and that of your teammates. If you have any symptoms but are still able to work, please coordinate with your manager and work-at-home.  With remote access and tools like Chime and Vonage, you should be able to conduct most business virtually.  Please remember to update your Outlook calendar to note your location as WAH (work at home) in case we receive calls or need to locate you.  If you become too ill to work, please update your manager and switch to PTO-Sick Time.
  • For our working parents with school age children we are flexing our work arrangements to allow you to work at home as well.  We understand the burden being placed upon many of you and your spouses and partners as you try to manage the school closures/e-learning impact on your kiddos.  Please talk with your manager to discuss a workable plan where you can meet your job expectations while being at home.  As with those feeling ill, please update your Outlook calendars in case we need to locate you.  Depending upon the needs of your children, we realize you may not be able to work a consistent workday.  We encourage you to talk with you manager about making up time early or later or over the weekend, or using PTO if you simply cannot make up the time in a given week.  If you are supporting your kids but need to swing by the office to pick up a file or perhaps grab printed materials, we continue to welcome families to be in the workplace.  All we ask is that you manage these times by being considerate of your co-workers.
  • If you have any other personal circumstance requiring you to work at home – such as caring for an ill family member – please talk with your manager.  During this challenging time, our goal is to err on the side of your safety and overall precaution.
  • At this time, we plan to keep our offices open at this time.  There are many on our team who do not need to coordinate kids and who prefer the office environment (and some who have kiddos at home but need to occasionally escape to a place with only adults!).  We are adopting some safety precautions at the office as well:
    • We are continuing to request extra cleaning through our maintenance partners.  Hand soap, sanitizers and disinfectant wipes are available throughout the office if you need to clean an area in between.
    • We encourage personal distance – consistent with CDC recommendations – while we are at the office.  Please review the attached SHRM Social Distance Guidelines for best practices.
    • For all internal meetings – even one-on-one discussions – please consider switching to a Chime meeting.  Toni has prepared a required Lessonly course on the use of Chime and it will be released later this morning.  It is required training for all employees.
    • Please be considerate as we pass each other in the community spaces like hallways, work rooms and such.  Let’s keep our space as a sign of respect for each other.
    • After using a conference room or other shared tools, please take a moment to wipe down the areas using disinfectant wipes.
  • Many clients and prospective clients are rescheduling less critical business meetings or continuing meetings using remote meeting technology.  For those in contact with our clients or other external parties, please proactively contact your clients and offer to switch live meetings to Chime in order to respect their safety and ours.
  • If you have business travel scheduled involving airline travel, please review the travel plans with your manager.  Most conferences or other group events are being rescheduled to future dates.  If you have any question about a conference or meeting you are scheduled to attend, please check with the organizers. Unless the travel is business critical, it should be cancelled or postponed at this time.

Team, we do not anticipate a quick resolution to COVID-19 and need to remain flexible to do the important work of Apex and support our clients while being safe and supporting each other. Please help us help you by asking your questions of your managers or contacting me directly.  If you learn of new approaches being taken by carriers or clients, please share these updates too.

We understand this situation may be creating stress and worry for many on our team.  There are resources available to help us personally navigate.  I’ve included a resource from the World Health Organization (WHO) on coping with stress during this crisis.  If you need assistance, please reach out.

THANK YOU for your amazing commitment to Apex and our clients.

Jim Harenberg, COO

Contact