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What it’s like being part of a virtual team

Meet Hillary Burns, Thyme Care’s Care Partner Team Lead–Care Partners advocate for Thyme Care members and connect them to the resources they need, such as transportation and financial assistance. Before joining Thyme Care, Hillary was a realtor, productivity coach and 8th grade science teacher.  Having supported a number of family members navigating challenging healthcare journeys–including a cancer diagnosis–Hillary jumped at the opportunity to help more people in a similar way. Hear more from Hillary about her shift from in-person education to a virtual care team.

What is the most valuable skill you learned in prior experiences that you’ve brought into your role? 

I have found that while the group of individuals I’m supporting are very different, the skills I used in teaching and training translate well into my new set of responsibilities. The modern teacher is a person who manages relationships while using technology to communicate, educate, and to record student performance. 

In my current position as a Care Partner Team Lead, managing relationships is one of my core responsibilities. Similarly, Care Partners and teachers are required to be active listeners, identifying needs that may or may not be voiced. Both roles require an empathetic communication strategy to ensure that the individual you’re supporting or teaching feels comfortable, heard and cared for. Both roles also rely heavily on technology to effectively scale our support, record data and streamline future tasks across our team. 

Coming to this role with those established skillsets has been invaluable in my approach to not only supporting members, but also Care Partners on my team. 

What are the advantages of working in a virtual environment? 

Historically, care delivery required the individual to live and work in the same place. Since virtual care has taken off and proven to be extremely valuable for patients, it’s enabled a wider net of passionate individuals to join the industry, like myself and my teammates. 

Many of my colleagues are spread across the country, enabling a more diverse group of individuals to come together to expand our team’s collective perspectives and life experiences. I love not being limited by geography when looking for talented people to join our team. 

Thyme Care’s virtual care model has provided the opportunity to identify a job that aligns with my personal passion and enabled me to advance professionally within an organization while having the flexibility of working in a secure home environment.  

What is your approach to building relationships with coworkers? 

I will admit, this was one of the areas I thought could be a challenge in a virtual environment.  I knew I would not see most colleagues around the “water cooler” at the office. I knew how important it would be to be proactive about making space to build and deepen relationships with my coworkers.

By choosing to be proactive about making team connection a priority through virtual coffee meetups, team meetings, and one-on-one conversations, we have been able to build a team that cares about each other as well as the members we serve. 

Now it’s one of my favorite parts about the job.

How often do you meet with your team members? 

Our team has several touch points throughout the week. We have standing meetings on the calendar for addressing important business items and for training. Additionally, we huddle in two to three person groups as needs arise to partner in assisting our members and to provide support for one another. 

Occasionally some of our team will cross paths at our headquarters in Nashville, which is usually accompanied by a lot of excitement! 

What tips can you give others to be successful working in a virtual environment? 

Create an environment for success. 

Ensure your home office is a comfortable, non-distracting space. It’s important to separate your workspace from your daily living space and to follow any workplace security and compliance guidelines of your company, especially when working in healthcare since we are handling member’s personal health information. 

This also encourages and allows you to focus when you are working and to find distance from your work when it is time to relax and recharge. That may mean working in a separate room of your home or creating a workspace that can appear and disappear if you are working in a studio apartment. 

Make connection with your team a priority. 

Make sure you have a plan for how and when to connect on important work issues. Reach out when you need help, no one succeeds on their own. Be a proactive relationship builder and make time to know your teammates as people whether it be via virtual coffees or lunches. 

As a team lead, how do you plan to foster a sense of belonging and connection on the team?

As mentioned above, making space and time for my team to connect with me individually and as a group is one of my highest priorities. Regular touch points encourage open communication and feedback, which allows me to better understand the success and opportunities for each team member, and for the care team as a whole. 

The Care Team does amazing work for a vulnerable population. I plan to provide the same level of support to them as they do our members. 

If you’re interested in learning more, visit our careers page to get an inside look at the Care Team and how they bring Thyme Care’s mission to life. 

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