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Joe Anderson: moving up – from across state lines

Under our FlexWork program, BlueCross employees are allowed to move to certain areas outside of Tennessee and retain their jobs with BlueCross.

Manager of Financial Planning Joe Anderson decided to take advantage of the expansion of areas and move his family, but he wasn’t sure what that would mean for his future growth at the company. When he received a promotion as they moved into their new home in Charlotte, N.C., he knew he could advance  no matter where he lived.

“It all happened so fast, but it was really a long time in the making,” Joe says.“My wife and I have lived in Chattanooga our entire lives. We wanted to broaden our horizons and those of our two young daughters by living in a new city.”

“We had visited Charlotte on an anniversary trip and thought it was a perfect fit — not too far away, a nice-sized city with a diverse population, and lot to do.”

In November 2021, when BlueCross announced the expansion of its work-from-home footprint to include North Carolina, Joe’s family spent Thanksgiving looking for houses in Charlotte. By January, they’d found one and moved in.

“I was a senior financial analyst at the time, and my manager was retiring, so I applied for the manager position,” Joe says. “I thought I was a good fit but wasn’t sure if my location would hold me back.”

At the time, BlueCross allowing employees to live in another state was a brand-new policy. Joe couldn’t help thinking that his move was a little risky. 

“I was unpacking boxes in our new home – with stuff all over the place – when I got the call offering me the position,” Joe recalls.

“I thought all along that BlueCross leaders meant what they said about remote work, or I wouldn’t have moved, but the promotion showed me they’d doubled down and were fully committed to being a remote-first company.”

Embracing his new role

In his management role, Joe works with the Shared Health Mississippi Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP), a health plan for Mississippi residents who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.

“The people we serve are among the most vulnerable in the state, with many needs that are often unmet,” he explains. “While I’m not working with these members directly, I like being part of helping people in need. I know if we can get more people enrolled and do our jobs well, we’ll make a real difference in their lives.” 

The Shared Health Mississippi plan is in its third year and focused on growth, which creates an entrepreneurial atmosphere.

“There’s nothing in Shared Health that’s routine,” Joe says. “We’re constantly learning. We get to try things out and if they work, we do more of that. There’s often not necessarily a clear ‘right answer.’ We try to find the best answer in serving the people covered by the plan.”

Working with others, from a distance

Joe’s Shared Health team has three people, all working outside of an office. There are virtual team meetings at least a couple of times per week as well as individual check-ins and ongoing communications via messaging or email.

“I don’t see managing projects or people remotely as a particular challenge,” he says. “Before I came to BlueCross, I had more than a dozen direct reports, and at least half of them were remote. That was in 2009, way before Microsoft Teams, Zoom or any of the technologies we have today.”

“One thing I learned back then that still applies is the importance of taking the time to check in with the people you work with,” Joe adds.

“By that I mean just asking how they’re doing, what they’re doing this weekend or where they may be stuck. When we were in the office, you’d get coffee and could stop by someone’s desk to say hello. When you’re remote, you have to be more intentional about it.”

Joe has taken advantage of opportunities to meet in person, when possible. He was in Chattanooga visiting family over the holidays last year and came into the office a couple of days. He’s also attended management meetings and team-building events held by BlueCross.

“I’ll always take advantage of opportunities to meet in person whenever I can,” he says. “However, I think one of my primary roles of being a manager is acting in a way that inspires trust. You can do that remotely  as well as in person. That means doing the right thing for the people you work with and the people you serve. Giving credit where it’s due.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to do all of that from wherever I choose to live.”

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