Issue - July/August 2021


Process Improvement for
Permanent Positive Change

By Ashley Gorb, Director, International Commercial Operations, Atlas World Group, International

Atlas International, like so many other companies, had to make quick decisions to keep staff safe during the pandemic. We have staff throughout the U.S. (and one employee in the UK) with most of our staff split between the Seattle, Washington and Evansville, Indiana areas.

As the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was in the Seattle area, we had to react quickly. There were no government-issued mandates yet, so we started by allowing staff to work where they felt comfortable. Many decided to work remotely, but early on, we still had some staff in the office. By early March, Washington state was in lockdown, so Washington state employees were working remotely. Our Indiana staff started working remotely shortly thereafter.

During the early stages of Covid, everyone was trying to get used to all the changes and we had to find new ways to communicate with each other. At first, we mostly communicated by phone, email, and Skype messaging, but it wasn’t the same as being able to turn around and talk to your colleague. That feeling of being disconnected from your team and coworkers was a big challenge and a hit to morale.

As time went on, we started using Zoom and Microsoft Teams more so we could add video to our communication and try to get back some of the face-to-face interaction that our staff was missing. This was great for internal communication with our colleagues, but it was also a great way to keep in touch with our accounts and partners. Video conferencing does not replace in-person meetings, but it is so much better than just a phone call. Seeing how positively the IAM-YP happy hours were received really pushed us to implement more virtual meetings with our own staff so we could stay connected and get to see each other, even if just through a computer screen.

This past year with COVID-19 brought a lot of challenges, but also some positive changes. We had to find ways to work more efficiently, which meant improving processes and better utilizing our move management software. Also, we focused more energy on creating a better customer experience. Moving internationally is already one of the most stressful things a person can do, but moving during a global pandemic greatly increased the stress levels for our customers. By increasing communication with customers and including video conferencing with our accounts, we were able to provide better customer service and help them through a difficult time. We are excited to continue to learn from the past year and looking forward to the new normal, and to seeing you all in Orlando!