DCS Shifts to a Remote Work Environment

I had the pleasure to interview Sheri Sherrell, President of DCS to understand how the company is adjusting to the Covid-19 “shelter-in-place” restrictions.  This affects their offices in Washington, Texas and multiple client sites across the U.S.

When did you decide to close the offices and move to a remote environment?

Seattle was the original epicenter of the pandemic here in the U.S., so we were paying close attention to the situation. I personally was a little slow to react and came around when Gary and I began watching what was going on in Italy. As a result, both Gary and I were convinced we needed to make swift changes. We formally started to put things in motion about the middle of March, in advance of the governor issuing the shelter in place order on March 23, 2020.

Did your current technology support a remote work environment?

Approximately three years ago, we began implementing Citrix across our servers and creating virtual workstations. We did a lot of testing and troubleshooting at that time to work through connectivity issues and other problems. As a result of this hard work and forward vision by our IT staff, we were able to pivot our team to working remotely with very few issues.  We had a few employees who needed docking stations or additional monitors but otherwise the team was equipped with the tools they needed to be productive right away.

How are you managing phone calls?

Since inception, we have always had a position at DCS titled “Director of First Impression” (DOFI). This person is responsible for setting a positive tone with each caller, thus avoiding the use of an automated phone attendant for over 30 years. When we moved the office to remote workstations, we needed to enable the automated attendant on our phone system.  This gives the caller the opportunity to leave a message or connect to the directory of staff where the caller is redirected to each team member’s home workstation. This change is working great and we are not missing any calls.

How have your clients been reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Our healthcare clients are extremely busy implementing technology to support the Covid-19 pandemic response. They are connecting “Pop-up” hospitals and drive through testing sites to their EMRs. Some clients who did not previously permit remote work are easing their policies during this time and that is a good thing for future flexibility.  We also have some clients who are issuing laptops to support consultants remote work.   Our account managers are working closely with DCS clients to be sure they have everything they need during this time and our recruiters are doing the same with our consultants and independent contractors.

How are staff reacting to the changes?

We have an incredible team at DCS. They made the shift to the virtual work environment very easily. Our staff and consultants are so grateful to be working and are doing everything they can to support each other. For the most part, it has been business as usual for our company minus the new HR issues with co-workers at home…

On our all company call last week, we asked how staff were managing work in a remote environment. Some texted pictures of their offices set up on dining room tables or in spare bedrooms. We had a few HR complaints voiced about their rowdy new lunch mates or chasing the cursor on screens (kids and pets).

What are your biggest concerns moving forward?

Things are evolving at a rapid pace and it’s hard to predict how this is going to play out. I look at the impact this is having on the worldwide economy and wonder how quickly the U.S. can recover. I can’t help but think back twenty years ago to Y2K and the impact that had on consulting firms when IT budgets were frozen for months.  At that time, DCS went about eight months before things began to turn around.  I also have concerns about reintroducing people back into the work environment.  I don’t want to put people in harm’s way.

We are all in this together and DCS is committed to creating a successful environment for our staff, consultants, and clients.  I have a favorite quote, “Success happens when opportunity meets preparedness”. Fortunately, our IT team had us “prepared” and the team was able to adapt quickly.  We are in unprecedented territory. We will continue to adapt as we need until we can get back to more normalized business operations.


Contributed by: Amy Noel