Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

9 remote work best practices from Verizon HR chief Christy Pambianchi

Verizon moved telesales, customer care, solutions specialists and staff functions remote. IT also went remote as did a lot of retail associates.

Remote workforce best practices: A conversation with Verizon HR chief Christy Pambianchi
15:17

Verizon's Christy Pambianchi is working from home with 134,999 colleagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing a few innovation opportunities amid the disruption.

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Pambianchi, chief human resources officer at Verizon, walked us through the company's move to remote work and shared some best practices. Here are some of the takeaways from my chat with Pambianchi.

It's hard to plan for a pandemic and moving 135,000 people remote so you have to just leap. Verizon moved telesales, customer care, solutions specialists and staff functions remote. IT also went remote as did a lot of retail associates. "We just took a position that said, 'we want everything to move to a work-at-home environment that can,' and so that was the starting point," said Pambianchi.

Remote work means remote training. In the last week, Verizon put 25,000 workers through virtual training on how to perform their roles.

Be patient and flexible. There will be distractions, there will be barking dogs and there will be kids on your video calls. Move on.

Gear has to get to the front lines. Pambianchi said Verizon allowed front line folks to "home garage" instead of coming to a central office to batch tickets, tools, and equipment for the day. Verizon also had to get laptops and cameras to folks to enable online work and support from home.

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Christy Pambianchi

Verizon

Hold office hours and take questions. Pambianchi has an "Ask Christy" inbox and executives film a video for employees on key topics.

This move to remote work can speed up digital transformation. "I'm kind of excited about looking at this as an innovation opportunity, versus just a disruption," said Pambianchi. "We're learning a lot of new things."

Video is "not as bad of a substitute" for face-to-face meetings. That said, Pambianchi expects a premium to be placed on in-person connections once the pandemic is over.

Orthodox rules will be rethought. These orthodoxies are all over the place within corporations, but the move to remote work will likely enable a more decentralized Verizon and create more of an internal skills market for expertise, she said.

Be patient. "People are scared right now," said Pambianchi. "We're just encouraging our coworkers to be patient with each other because stress and anxiety come out in different ways. And as everybody's flipping to this new normal, while also facing what may be some personal risks, we're trying to make sure we just all exercise patience with each other."