United States Senate Federal Credit Union ($1.02 billion, Alexandria, Va.) moved its entire in-office-only operation to remote-only in weeks during March in response to coronavirus pandemic demands.
Like many credit unions placed in a similar situation due to the coronavirus, USSFCU did not have any expectation of working remotely previously. Additionally, some employees simply could not work from home. But the credit union decided it needed to change in order to safeguard the health and wellness of members and its workforce.
“We had a couple of people work from home, for example, the head of our ACH department,” USSFCU President/CEO Timothy L. Anderson said. “We have people who sometimes work from home, but to do something on the scale of shutting down the entire credit union and have every single operation from employees’ homes; that’s just an incredible concept.”
In early March, Anderson gathered his senior management team to strategize and weigh their options on how to move forward. The first steps, creating a Crisis Management Taskforce, composed of senior management from USSFCU’s project management, risk management and human resources, streamlined decision-making and hammered out policies and procedures to ensure transitions were manageable for overall security, compliance and reduced risk.
Next, USSFCU’s IT department, which had to move all of its 115-plus employees offsite, spent many hours in setup and testing to ensure the new remote work environment would be functional for employees and have airtight security.
There were a few prelaunch bumps. Not all employees had devices or remote access capabilities. Additionally, there were bandwidth limitations for some employees. Many companies and organizations, faced with similar challenges, either furloughed employees or let them go in the pandemic’s wake. USSFCU decided not only would all employees stay on regardless of their remote work accessibility, they would also continue to receive their regular pay during these challenging times.
On March 19, USSFCU launched its official first day as a predominantly remote work organization. All branches closed their doors except one, keeping the drive-thru open a few hours per week. “I am really proud of how our teams were able to pull this off,” Anderson said. “Our call center representatives are set up remotely, so they’re taking calls from their homes. The loan operation folks are receiving applications. ACH, support services and marketing are doing their jobs. You name it, HR and payroll are doing fine, every single department. We have not missed a beat. I never thought I’d see something like this.”
It is continuing to refine and expand the system to run more smoothly, efficiently and have more capacity. USSFCU also decided to reward essential employees, who had to physically come into the office or branches since March 16, with supplemental pay.
USSFCU has continued to serve its members and quickly put in place measures to assist members in need during these difficult times, from offering 90-day deferred loan payments, to waiving certain fees and penalties, to offering a special Relief Loan and modified Signature Loan with a 90-day “No Pay” option.
“What has been so rewarding,” Anderson said, “is how we have all pulled together during these very trying times. Everyone has a shared goal and is working together. This terrible event has brought us all closer.”
USSFCU said it will continue to work remotely until there is new guidance from the CDC, federal, state and local officials.