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Workers Compensation Management Company Embraces Secure Collaboration to Bridge the Remote Divide
Introducing the Intermedia Business Innovators series – where Intermedia honors business and civic leaders who are improving customer care, employee engagement, and operations through innovative thinking and decisive action. Hear the stories from the business innovators first-hand.
As companies face unique challenges in the pandemic era, continued success requires flexibility and innovative thinking from business leaders. For IT leaders, establishing robust communications and collaboration infrastructure is a priority to maintain operational continuity, stay responsive to customer needs, and facilitate employee productivity from wherever they happen to be working. For the many organizations that work in heavily regulated industries, the need for secure tools that maintained regulatory compliance is especially important.
For Risico, a leading Fresno, California-based workers’ compensation firm that provides claims management, managed care, and insurance products to thousands of customers throughout California, the need to find easy-to-use, secure, and compliant communications and collaboration tools that helped to facilitate a seamless transition to remote work was critical. Identifying the right IT tools to keep business running is the responsibility of Risico CIO Lou Feliz, and I recently spoke to Mr. Feliz about his company’s rapid transition to a flexible work model, and the technology tools that helped make it happen.
Transition from the Traditional Office to The Anywhere Office
As an essential provider for local government to manage compensation claims, Risico, operates close to the policymakers and was able to make immediate decisions for adopting to the changing environment when the COVID-19 social distancing mandates were put into effect. Prior to the pandemic, Risico ran a traditional office model. With the arrival of the pandemic, that needed to change quickly. As Mr. Feliz shares, “we were an in-office culture. Some of our nurses had remote capability. Some of our nurses were doing field casework … but with the transition that we’ve had to make because of the COVID-19 response we now have 60% of our staff out of the office, working at home.” As Mr. Feliz states, “It’s a big shift to go from less than 2-3% of your stuff working remotely to 50 or 60%.” Risico now operates a hybrid working model, requiring a number of employees to work in the office to process the paperwork inherent to the workers compensation industry, while many others remain home. We had a traditional office location with really no remote work capabilities. Once we saw the impending lockdowns, we knew we had to evaluate the tools we had.,” Mr. Feliz said.
As Risico’s IT leader, Mr. Feliz’s first order of business was to find the right tools to keep the company’s employees connected with each other, regardless of location. Risico’s working environment can’t live in silos, so Mr. Feliz understood the importance of keeping employees connected. Further, to keep clients and customers safe, like many businesses, Risico closed its office to visitors while still needing to engage with clients effectively. With such a turn of events, the right IT infrastructure was critical.
Security and Ease of Use Are High Priorities
Whether between employees or with clients, conversations in the workers compensation industry must be secure. Mr. Feliz highlights the issues, “We’ve got to have a platform that allows us to lock things down because if we’re going to have a conversation with a client about a claim or if they’re going to speak to a prospect, maybe they’re discussing HIPAA information over a video link, but nonetheless the privacy of that conversation whether it’s a training or two employees having a discussion about a case, you want to make sure that information is protected.”
As Risico was already an Intermedia customer for hosted Exchange Email, after conducting due diligence, Mr. Feliz made the decision to extend services to include Intermedia’s video conferencing platform, AnyMeeting. “We liked how easy it was to use, but also that it met all the HIPAA compliance requirements. With about 60% of workers moving to remote, we needed a way to keep communication open beyond a simple conference bridge number,” Mr. Feliz noted.
Ease of use was another criterion for selecting the right communications and collaboration solution. The face-to-face communication that video conferencing affords, especially during such an unsettling time, was embraced by the team at Risico. “Employees initially had to get used to it, learning how to drive a meeting and share their screen. But it really took little time to get up to speed,” said Mr. Feliz. He then added (with a bit of a grin), “Our VP of Marketing did provide a little training on how to look your best on video and other tips for a successful meeting.” In noting the importance of the customer relationship, Mr. Feliz concluded, “It’s almost like you’re in person when you’re on that video call.” AnyMeeting’s video conferencing cloud platform provided Risico with the security and ease of use criteria that were key to remote communications.
The Hybrid Working Model is Here to Stay
Risico CIO, Lou Feliz understood the magnitude of his responsibilities when COVID-19 changed the rules of business operations. Prioritizing on the best path for both internal and external communications and with added industry compliance requirements for security, he conducted his due diligence and pivoted his company into video conferencing as a primary form of communications. Further, Mr. Feliz is evaluating even more tools as long-term planning continues.
As for the future, Lou Feliz foresees that the hybrid working model comes with benefits and will likely sustain itself into the future. “Remote work is now part of our normal culture. Now that we’re finding our staff are productive at home, we’re finding that people are productive if we equip them with the right tools. In addition, we are improving some of our infrastructure capabilities to support remote work long-term.”
Watch the video to hear more from Mr. Feliz.