OGDEN — There’s no doubt the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to impact economies everywhere.
But amid all the dire prognostications, owners of one Ogden business say they’re not only adapting, but thriving.
Last week, MarketStar senior officials made a decision to move into an all “work from home” operation to help lessen the risk of spreading the virus.
Occupying the large glass building downtown at 2475 Washington Blvd., MarketStar has been a fixture in Ogden for years. The company functions as an outsourced sales provider and is one of the largest employers in Weber County. Originally founded in Roy, MarketStar is the largest private, homegrown employer in the county and works with large tech firms like Samsung, Intel and DropBox, helping them increase business-to-business sales.
President Keith Titus said with early and intensive planning, nearly 900 Utah office-based MarketStar employees began working remotely on March 18. Titus said the company also moved its Dublin, Ireland, workforce to a remote work scenario in the same timeframe — bringing the total number of company employees currently working from home to about 1,200.
“We’d been thinking about (a scenario like) this since February,” Titus said.
The company’s Business Continuity Planning team began meeting in earnest during the first few days in March, holding daily briefings on the unfolding novel coronavirus situation.
“We had full policies and procedures in place for employees and clients on March 4,” said Philip Mickey, MarketStar director of marketing.
The company made a custom-built, internally focused web page that serves as its “single source of truth” for employees and clients, Mickey said. It includes regular updates on things like employee health guidelines, meetings policies, MarketStar-sponsored travel (which has been suspended indefinitely), work from home guidelines and more. Mickey said the page also links to other resources relevant to the pandemic, like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MarketStar began its work-from-home staging on March 16, organizing teams over the following four days. The work was accelerated on March 18 when Northern Utah was hit by a 5.7-magnitude earthquake.
Since employees began working from home, the company has seen increases in call volumes, email activity, and overall employee engagement, all of which are measured by internal technology systems. The company is also hiring for 50 positions.
Josh Lopez, a human resources manager, said the company’s background in tech helped make the transition smooth, but he said “basic principles of caring ... and strong leadership” were the most important factors during the move.
Shae Hill says while internal tracking sources indicate productivity is up since employees began working from home, senior officials within the company are trying to help employees maintain a proper work/life balance. While leaders are working to get employees to stay motivated and be connected, Hill said they’re also stressing the importance of disconnecting at the appropriate times.
“You should be taking two breaks and a lunch,” Hill said. “We do that all the time in the office, so you should be doing that at home, too.”
It goes without saying that MarketStar management would like to get back to business as usual, but Mickey says from a technological standpoint, the company is prepared to work remotely for as long as it’s needed.
Meanwhile, company leaders say being able to continue with work during the COVID-19 crisis has provided some solace.
“From my perspective, having the continuity of work and having a mission to accomplish every day — that’s given me a great deal of comfort,” Titus said.