People are returning to offices as Coronavirus variants spread. Responsible employers aren’t letting their guard down.
“I’m proud to work for a company where our CEO sees the value in keeping people safe.” Kim Barbaria, Sr Prod Manager for Resiliency in Internal Ops
About National Indemnity
National Indemnity Company is one of the leading property/casualty members of the Berkshire Hathaway group of insurance companies. In the 2004 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report, Warren E. Buffett, Chairman, wrote, “Indeed, had we not made this acquisition [National Indemnity Company], Berkshire would be lucky to be worth half of what it is today.”
Q&A With Kim Barbaria, Sr. Product Manager for Resiliency in Internal Ops
Kim led the team to investigate and implement personnel safety measures during the pandemic. Her team was responsible for vendor selection, rollout, training, and the response in the event of a positive case. This is part of her larger role of business continuity and resilience – critical as an insurance provider.
Why did National Indemnity decide to extend its subscription to the AiRISTA solution as CDC guidelines like mask mandates are easing?
We had been using a 50/50 rotation at home and onsite. We shifted to 100% onsite and immediately had 2 positive cases on 2 floors and 15 close contacts. We have been averaging 1 case per day for the last 10 days so the system is needed more than ever.
Can you describe how you introduced the solution and how it has scaled?
We have 2 people responsible for handing out tags. One is always on site. They provide a 5-minute description and written instructions. We use email reminders to drive compliance. We have gradually ramped use and are up to 1,300 people in our Omaha headquarters and 750 people in various California branches.
Are there any lessons learned you can share with others?
The beeping of the tags when within 6’ of others became distracting so we disabled that. It’s important to understand the 6’ boundary can vary based on things that effect the tag’s signal strength, so we focus on the contact tracing aspect. We developed a battery replacement process with a go-to person on each floor which allows us to manage distribution and recycling. We used a survey to solicit feedback and have found that the solution has created good will among employees.
What was your response to positive test cases and how did you guard individuals’ privacy?
People testing positive must avoid the building and test after 5 days. We provide home test kits and pay for PCR tests. They can only return once they test negative and wait 10 days. Since only the person’s ID is associated with a tag, we leave it to HR to determine the individual’s identity and all follow up conversations.
Did you need a lot of support from AiRISTA?
During the peak of COVID when things were really busy and supplies ran low, we were assigned dedicated support and sales specialists who helped resolve issues.
As part of a family of companies, were there opportunities to share best practices?
Headquartered in Omaha, we meet with local groups like Great Plains Contingency Planners to share best practices. There is even a National Peer Group of Insurance Carriers to build awareness of business continuity solutions. Use of the AiRISTA solution has also helped recruit new employees in this tight labor market.