By Betty Elliott, Partner and Chief Information Security Officer, Mercer
July 14, 2020

In this time of change and uncertainty, it’s very important to stay connected to your teams.  My team and I already were a remote team before the pandemic but I still felt it was necessary to take extra steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the team.  We are all located in different regions of the country and have different personal experiences. 

Zoom was already a part of our interactions and we were all comfortable with video meetings and working from home.  At the onset of the shelter in place orders, I scheduled daily 15-minute check-ins with the team to discuss any questions or concerns related to COVID-19, the impact on their roles (which fortunately there has been none) and their mental health. 

I have an employee who was really struggling in the early months.  She lost her daycare for 5-year-old twin boys, her husband had taken a new job and was living in an apartment in another state, and her house was on the market.  She broke down in tears one day when the stress was too much and she was worried about losing her job.  We worked out a flexible work schedule that allowed her to continue the progress needed on her projects but gave her the ability to take care of her children.

One other activity that I instituted was a weekly happy hour to play a game called Pokeno.  Pokeno boards were available online so each person was given a different board.  We all have a deck of cards and whoever wins the previous game gets to choose what the next game is (you can do 4 corners, a regular bingo, pokeno, an M, Z, C, X or L or make up a game to play) and call the cards until there is a winner. 

We play late in the afternoon so you can bring a beverage of choice.  This time together has really brought us closer as a team.  We talk about hobbies, family, vacation (or should I say staycation) plans etc.  We keep tally of who wins each week and have a running total (we razz each other a lot on who’s winning and who’s losing).  We enjoy it so much it may continue well beyond the pandemic.

Key takeaways:

  1. Spend extra time with your teams.
  2. Communicate often – be open and transparent.
  3. Find a fun social activity to do as a team.
  4. Be empathetic and flexible – we all have different personal situations and the pandemic impacts us in unique ways. 
  5. And most of all – stay healthy and safe.

Betty Elliot is an accomplished information security leader with a proven track record of building successful security programs across financial, retail, BPO and consulting services industries. Elliot joined Mercer in January of 2018 as a Partner, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). She is responsible for establishing and maintaining the enterprise vision, strategy and program to ensure that Mercer’s physical and digital information assets and technologies are adequately protected. Full bio