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How The Retirement Advantage Shifted 70 Employees to Remote Work In One Week During the COVID-19 Crisis


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For a big, national organization, like The Retirement Advantage (TRA), a retirement plan administration company, keeping their employees connected is critically important.

With about half of their employees working remotely on a normal basis, they were faced with the challenge of getting the other half transitioned to remotely work as quickly as possible during the early weeks of the COVID-19 crisis.

The key to making that transition as easily as possible? Communication.

Using the right tools, infrastructure, and their emergency work-from-home plan, the IT department at TRA quickly got all of their 200 employees transitioned to working from home—empowering them to continue business as usual.

Outgrowing old systems and switching to RingCentral

When they outgrew their previous system last year, TRA faced a choice: do a major upgrade that would require a migration to a new system and new backend hardware and licensing or consider other options. For Mark Ruhland, Director of IT and Security for TRA, staying with the old system would have been “a management nightmare.”

A reliable and working telephony platform is particularly important to the team of Client Relationship Managers at TRA, who “live on the phone,” according to Mark. He cited messaging as a big communication tool for their internal teams, too.

What they needed most was a user-friendly solution for their teams. “Having our employees be able to adapt to the phone system and leverage instant messaging is huge for us,” Mark said.

They made the choice to use RingCentral for their team’s communication and collaboration needs.

It ended up being a smart choice. Obviously, nobody could predict the COVID-19 crisis, and the coming necessity to shift employees to working from home. But in March 2020, just like many other organizations throughout the world, they had to make that transition.

Converting employees to work from home

Thanks to the flexibility of the RingCentral mobile app, as soon as the work-from-home decision was made by leaders at TRA, they were able to offer employees the safest option of not coming into the office, even to retrieve equipment.

Instead, they encouraged employees to stay home, using a personal computer along with secure remote access software and the RingCentral mobile app to work.

Mark says they provided some simple instructions for downloading the RingCentral app and some pointers on how to use it. This allowed teams to get set up at home quickly and stay connected through the changing situation.

When everything was shifting for each employee, from physical workspaces to daily life, the teams were grateful to already be using a solution that could enable company-wide communication so quickly.

“The great thing was, we weren’t reinventing our infrastructure, we had everything in place to support this change. All of TRA’s employees were already on the RingCentral system with a little over half working remotely, being able to easily deploy the RingCentral mobile phone app for the employees that needed it really helped make this transition easy.” said Mark.

The result?

Mark’s team was able to coordinate about 70 employees converting to remote work within a week. He says they could have moved even faster, but they slowed the transition slightly to allow employees to move at their own pace as they were comfortable.

Positive response to working-from-home

Not only was TRA able to convert to having employees work from home, but the response to the transition has been overwhelmingly positive (making Mark’s team look great in the process).

Management has been happy with how quickly and efficiently the IT team was able to move while getting everyone up and running with remote work. Mark attributes having the right tools, infrastructure, and an emergency plan, for making a smooth transition.

“We received several compliments from staff and leadership on how well the transition went.” Mark said. “The fact that we were able to pull this off and continue working with very little disruption is a testament as well.”

Their newly remote sales staff, who previously traveled to meet clients on-site, are now able to hold virtual meetings and screenshare using RingCentral. They’re not only learning how to run this new style of meeting but embracing it.

As an unexpected bonus for Mark’s team, employees are learning the ins and outs of the tools at their disposal in a way they hadn’t had to before—especially where virtual meetings are concerned. Mark says, “we’ve been promoting the use of webcams and virtual meetings for years already, but it never really caught on until now.  Don’t have a webcam but you have a smartphone?  Just install the RingCentral Meetings app and use your phone’s camera.  It’s that easy.”

They’re reporting that they look forward to using these tools to connect even when they aren’t sheltered in place anymore.

Work-from-home success for 200 employees

By having the RingCentral communication platform in place to support their existing remote employees, TRA had a head-start when it came to manage the COVID-19 situation.

Even though their employees aren’t able to come into the office anymore, it hasn’t slowed them down. With the right communication tool, they were able to smooth the transition to remote work for their remaining employees and keep everyone in the company connected and conducting business as usual.


Originally published May 13, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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