Alumna's company helps employers with virtual workforce
While Kara Kirby (B.A. ’06) was participating in a phone interview about how her company helps employers with a virtual workforce, her youngest child was making toddler noises, indicating it was probably nap time. That, Kirby explains is one reason her team at Ultimate Software has instituted what she calls a “no apologizing for kids and dogs’ zone.”
Kirby, who makes her home in North Carolina, was recently promoted to principal organizational consultant at Ultimate Software, a cloud-based human capital management and employee experience solutions with headquarters in Weston, Florida. A 30-year-old company, Ultimate Software has about 6,000 employees and recently merged with Kronos.
Long before the coronavirus pandemic, more companies were beginning to move toward virtual workforces. Kirby says that 40% of Ultimate Software employees work remotely. “There are a lot of advantages (now) that will come to light,” she says. Working from home, she says, reflects higher morale and less absenteeism among employees. “A lot of companies are having to learn to trust their employees.”
Kirby’s job is to work with businesses to determine their employee needs. “We help people be successful in the virtual world,” says the former Texas State University psychology major. “When COVID-19 happened, we married this idea of how to lead people to be successful with this new environment.”
Recently, Ultimate created a Kids Corner, to assist their client/parents dealing with working from home with children in the house.
“We really encourage people to be more methodical with (virtual) team meetings,” she says. For team leaders, agendas and checklists are a must. She adds that it is important to see what people are working on and to make sure teams feel connected. Other suggestions include guest speakers, podcasts and videos. “Take time to celebrate wins. Be more intentional with your time,” she says.
For employees working remotely, Kirby says there can be feelings of isolation and being less connected. “When people work from home,” she says, “they don’t have an on/off switch.”
She also has these suggestions, which fall under the heading of taking care of yourself:
- Get enough sunlight
- Give yourself grace
- Take breaks