Since COVID-19 vaccines became available, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. Our company’s medical directors – a group that includes authorities on infectious diseases – along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NC Department of Health and Human Services and countless other qualified leaders know that mass vaccination is the best way to move beyond COVID-19 in all its iterations. Our company’s leadership supports that position, including for our employees.
And now, as the virus evolves with variants that infectious disease experts report are more virulent than the initial strain, it’s important that our company’s mitigation strategies evolve to fight the changing virus.
In order to protect the health and safety of all Blue Cross NC employees who will spend any time at one of our physical office locations, all essential and non-essential employees, contractors and vendors must be vaccinated by November 15 to work onsite or access the Blue Cross NC campus, with limited exceptions. We are extending this policy for employees assigned to our retail centers, provider sites or agent offices to protect the health and well-being of our customers and communities.
In response to the pandemic, our company has transitioned to a virtual-first working model. That is, we expect the majority of our employees will choose to primarily work remotely moving forward. We acknowledge, however, that there will be occasions in the future when we will bring our team members onsite to continue to build community and culture, and of course some work teams may wish to meet at one of our locations. As such, we will do everything we can to make sure we provide a safe working environment for those occasions.
The majority of our workforce, who are remote non-essential employees, can continue to work from home regardless of vaccination status or show proof of vaccination when they want to access campus. The remaining two percent, our onsite essential employees, must show proof of vaccination or be subject to increased safety measures such as weekly testing, masking and social distancing.
While vaccines are the best way to move past the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize the decision to vaccinate is deeply personal and our policy changes are intended to balance the health and safety of our campus, our obligations to North Carolina’s communities, and personal choice. These new campus criteria are aligned with our philosophy of offering maximum flexibility to our workforce. Our fully remote employees are not required to be vaccinated.
To make vaccination as convenient as possible for our employees, we will hold additional vaccine clinics on our campus. We’re also hosting a series of lunch-and-learn sessions with medical professionals to answer vaccine questions and we offer additional sick time for any employees who may experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 has taught our company a lot of important lessons and confirmed many things, including the fact that we have the technology and tools to get our jobs done from almost anywhere. The workforce of our future includes a greater focus on flexibility – reimagining how, when and where we work.
While we have always been proud of our flexible work arrangements, COVID-19 has helped us broaden that perspective to determine what’s possible for our employees. Ultimately, our goal is to create a long-term workplace and workforce strategy that is customized to the needs of our people and our work culture.
We are committed to making North Carolina a healthier place to live for all of us. To do that vital work, we must create and maintain a safe working environment for all our employees.