Preparing for the ‘new normal’ at work

CUNA Councils chat addresses workplace changes during the pandemic.

August 26, 2020

The new workplace environment as shaped by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic includes remote work, social distancing, virtual happy hours, and new technologies designed to engage consumers and employees.

That’s according to attendees at a recent chat session, “The New Normal,” hosted by the CUNA Operations and Member Experience Council and the CUNA Technology Council.

Among other topics, participants discussed supporting team morale and connecting with employees in a largely remote work environment.

“We Facetime daily and have our meetings through Zoom,” says Maggie Robarts, vice president of operations at $331 million asset Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, Tampa, Fla., and a member of the CUNA Operations and Member Experience Council Executive Committee.

She hosted the chat with Douglas Robinson, vice president of information technology at $347 million asset Baton Rouge (La.) Telco Federal Credit Union.

“We try to communicate more than we did when we were in the office,” Robarts adds. “We try to make sure everyone feels connected.”

Other attendees use Microsoft Teams, daily huddles, and virtual happy hours to connect with their staff and colleagues. One credit union awarded five extra days of paid time off for employees who worked through the height of the pandemic.

Creating workable schedules for staff with children returning to school in the fall was another issue participants addressed in the chat.

“We have to be flexible with employees who have children and figure out a schedule they can work,” Robarts says.

While attendees allow employees to work remotely when possible, the biggest challenge was accommodating branch staff who couldn’t work from home. One credit union rotated frontline staff and required some employees to take leave.

Ensuring adequate cybersecurity of remote employees is another critical concern. Credit unions are using virtual private networks, virtual desktops, mobile thin clients, and two-factor authentication to address this issue.

Credit unions also use technology to monitor employee productivity and to verify that staff take state-mandated breaks.

Some ways credit unions are making their workplace safe for returning employees include:

  • Staggering work shifts.
  • Spacing staff at least six feet apart.
  • Holding virtual meetings.
  • Installing plexiglass shields, directional signs, and air purification units.
  • Replacing fabric seating with plastic seating because it’s easier to clean.
  • Implementing electronic signatures.
  • Migrating members to online and mobile channels.

But, as one participant wrote, “some members will always love coming to the branches.”