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Trust your workers when they work remotely

By Gleb Tsipursky | |9 minute read
Trust Your Workers When They Work Remotely

In our digital era, the ability to offer hybrid or fully remote roles is not just a perk – it’s a strategic necessity. But the impact goes beyond just staffing strategies. This shift towards more flexible arrangements is a profound expression of trust, a signal to employees that their autonomy is respected and valued.

This is the culture at Cambia Health Solutions, as revealed in my insightful conversation with Elizabeth Cole, the company’s chief human resources officer. Together, we unravelled the often-invisible threads that hold together the fabric of successful flexible work.

The genesis of remote work at Cambia


Cambia Health Solutions was already familiar with flexible work before COVID-19 transformed the workplace. Operating across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah, Cambia has had a large portion of its organisation working remotely for years.

This foresight ensured that a substantial segment of their employees, from the dynamic voices at the call centres to the analytical minds of actuaries and underwriters, were already adept at working outside the traditional office. As the pandemic reshaped our perception of work, Cambia seamlessly transitioned to a hybrid work model for most of its staff, setting the stage for a broader conversation on finding the perfect equilibrium between office presence and remote freedom.

The benefits of flexibility: A new competitive edge

By offering flexible arrangements, Cambia has unlocked a powerful tool for both recruitment and retention. Cole emphasised this point, illustrating how Cambia’s embrace of a hybrid work model has transformed it into a formidable player in the competitive landscape.

By giving staff flexibility in their work environment, Cambia has tapped into a deeper level of employee satisfaction. This autonomy can enhance overall happiness for some employees, but Cole cautioned that autonomy without purposeful connections can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation from other colleagues.

Additionally, the flexibility of hybrid work brings tangible benefits to productivity. Employees can seamlessly integrate various facets of their lives, balancing work with personal responsibilities. This integration naturally leads to reduced stress levels and the elimination of time-consuming commutes. However, as Cole wisely noted, this increase in productivity isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. The effectiveness of remote work can vary dramatically depending on the specific arrangement and the nature of the work involved.

Measuring productivity and performance: A results-oriented approach

Cambia’s strategy for measuring productivity and performance in its workforce is a paradigm shift from the traditional office model. Cole highlighted the company’s focus on outcomes. This approach represents a departure from the outdated practice of physical supervision, where employee productivity was often equated with their presence in the office.

By prioritising results over time spent at a desk, Cambia fosters an environment where creativity and problem solving are at the forefront. This model encourages employees to think outside the box, offering them the freedom to approach tasks in ways that best suit their skills and working styles. It’s a recognition that value creation doesn’t necessarily align with time spent but rather with the quality and impact of the work produced. This results-oriented approach not only boosts efficiency but also empowers employees, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their projects.

Tackling the challenges of remote work: Onboarding and mentoring

Navigating the nuances of a hybrid work model, especially when it comes to integrating new employees, is a challenge Cambia is actively addressing. The onboarding process at Cambia goes beyond mere orientation; it’s an exercise in comprehensive business integration. Cole underscored the importance of this process, emphasising that it’s designed to align new hires with the company’s values, goals, and operational methodologies.

Recognising the potential disconnect that can occur in remote settings, Cambia places a strong emphasis on the role of supervisors in maintaining personal connections. They are encouraged to frequently engage with their team members, using tools like Microsoft Teams to bridge the physical gap. This approach ensures new employees feel connected and supported, even when they are not physically in the office.

However, as Cole candidly admitted, this is an area of ongoing development. Cambia is actively exploring ways to enhance its remote onboarding and mentoring, acknowledging that the virtual environment poses unique challenges in fostering connections and conveying company culture.

Flexible work at Cambia: A balanced hybrid model

Cambia is working to strike the perfect balance between remote and in-office work. Cole champions a hybrid model that combines the best of both worlds: the collaboration and energy of in-person interactions with the autonomy and flexibility of remote work.

Cambia employees are encouraged to come into the office for specific tasks that benefit from face-to-face interaction, such as creative brainstorming, strategy sessions, and team-building activities. For other tasks that require deep concentration or individual focus, the option to work remotely is available. This hybrid model, ideally involving two to three days in the office each week, is seen as the optimal arrangement for balancing productivity, employee satisfaction, and the maintenance of a cohesive company culture.

In this model, the office becomes more than just a place to work; it’s a hub for creativity, collaboration, and community building, while the home or any remote location provides a haven for focused, independent work. Cole believes this balanced approach is the sweet spot for Cambia, offering a workplace that supports both employee flexibility and the benefits of teamwork.

Cognitive biases impacting remote work dynamics

In the context of remote work, certain cognitive biases can significantly influence both management decisions and employee performance. Specifically, let’s delve into how status quo bias and loss aversion play pivotal roles in shaping attitudes and behaviours towards remote work environments.

Status quo bias, which is the preference for the current state of affairs, often leads to resistance against the shift to remote work. This resistance can be observed in both organisational policies and individual attitudes. Organisations accustomed to traditional office settings might undervalue the benefits of remote work, such as increased flexibility and productivity, due to a preference for the familiar.

Loss aversion, the tendency to prioritise avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains, significantly influences remote work dynamics. Managers often fear the loss of control and oversight in remote settings, leading to concerns about decreased productivity and a possible inclination towards micromanagement. There is also a general concern about losing the spontaneous interactions and collaborations that occur in physical office spaces, although remote work can foster focused, uninterrupted, deep work.

Recognising and mitigating the impacts of status quo bias and loss aversion can be achieved through strategies such as clear communication of remote work’s benefits and establishing systems to maintain collaboration and innovation. As remote work evolves, navigating these psychological aspects will be key to successful adaptation and implementation.


Trust, flexibility, and an understanding of individual differences are crucial for the success of working remotely. That’s what I found when helping clients figure out their flexible work models, and I was glad to see these same dynamics in Cambia’s approach. Cole highlighted the importance of adapting to new work environments while maintaining productivity and employee engagement. This insight provides a valuable lesson for organisations navigating the post-pandemic work landscape. So, are you ready to embrace trust and flexibility in your workforce?


Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Remote working

Professionals can use remote work as a working method to do business away from a regular office setting. It is predicated on the idea that work need not be carried out in a certain location to be successful.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.