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Wearing Many Hats -
But Still Keeping our Heads on Straight

8/10/2020 | By Corporate Editorial Group

We’re managing client business, our families and our community work – almost entirely from home. Find out what propels this trifecta of progress during these trying times.

Working From Home – For You

With most of our 7,500-strong workforce working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all experienced the stress which comes from taking care of business, family and self – all from the kitchen table – as well as the sense of accomplishment which has come from the way we’ve supported one another in getting it all done.

"It's harder to operate this way, for sure," acknowledged T. Rowe Price CEO Bill Stromberg in a recent video message to all global employees. Nonetheless, he emphasized, "Times like these bring out the best in great people and great companies— and you have really risen to the occasion."

As T. Rowe Price navigates through the current crisis, the firm has continued to prioritize employees’ safety and comfort, while also tending to business needs.

“As a new leader in human resources, I was impressed by the level of thought and consideration for the various scenarios facing employees working from home. From caring for a child with disabilities, to elder care, to online learning, to living solo, to the need for grocery delivery and mental health support, the firm has tried to address all needs,” said Crystal Barney, a newly appointed talent leader.

Providing advice and resources during difficult times

In a word, working from home is just different. T. Rowe Price recognizes that, for many associates, disconnecting from job responsibilities while working from home can be a challenge. In that regard, the firm recommends that employees break up their workday—whether by taking a walk or enjoying some other form of personal rejuvenation. "I've encouraged my department not to schedule meetings between noon and 2:00 p.m. when it can be avoided, and to use this time to take a break or have dedicated time to catch up," explained Michelle Swanenburg, head of Human Resources.

Associates have been able to access these company-provided resources as needed:

  • one-on-one financial counseling;
  • back-up options for child and elder care;
  • 24/7 doctor visits via telemedicine;
  • free counseling through the Employee Assistance Program; and
  • stress-management resources.

The firm also launched TRP Connects at the start of the pandemic. On this social networking website, employees post videos, photos, or personal reflections from their home offices. "This has been particularly poignant while there’s so much dialogue about racial injustice in America" noted Swanenburg. The content has ranged from deeply personal and thought-provoking, to lighthearted. A team in Human Resources set up the site, but the content is driven by employees.

Swanenburg and her colleagues on the management committee have sponsored discussions inside the firm, where employees have been able to share their experiences and feelings about race relations and how to continue to increase diversity at the firm.

Chris Newman, who heads up new business development for U.S. institutional and Canadian businesses, believes the firm's culture is shining in these moments of stress. "I'm hearing stories about how smaller teams are really coming together, communicating better than ever," he shared on TRP Connects. "Client-first is what we say, and we are fortunate to have the strength of our firm to allow us to really live this. I reinforce with my team regularly that we need to stay connected to our clients, see how they are doing on a personal level, and make sure they and their families are okay."

Keeping operations running, both on-site and at home

In his message to employees, Stromberg extended "a special call-out to those associates who have continued to report to our offices during these extraordinarily difficult times." Stay-at-home orders remain in place for most of the workforce. But, as a global business with offices around the world, T. Rowe Price deploys on-site workers to keep operations going seamlessly.

For example, the Global Technology staff packaged and delivered nearly 1,600 orders for equipment to assist with the work-from-home transition across all sites. The platform, network, voice, and engineering teams continuously monitor technology infrastructure while scaling remote-access solutions. They accommodate an impressive 22,000 WebEx meetings per week—more than twice the usual volume.

Meanwhile, the Central Operations Support Services team, which scans all incoming mail and processes checks and securities for clients, supports the Individual Investors and Retirement Plan Services groups, as well as the broader enterprise. Additional on-site teams handle mail communications, building maintenance and security, food service, and cleaning.

Despite the challenging circumstances, the firm continues moving forward, fully operational, with a response to the pandemic that conveys an overriding sense of compassion for clients, employees, and the community at large. It's all possible thanks to the efforts of dedicated and resourceful associates who stand ready to support one another and guide clients through this time of uncertainty.