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May 15, 2020 9:38 am

‘Our Digital Infrastructure Helped Us Overcome the Covid-19 Crisis’

avatar by Naomi Zoref / CTech

People wear face masks while exercising and kids play around near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, in Ashkelon, Israel, after the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions, May 4, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

JNS.org – “The coronavirus (Covid-19) infected people, but it didn’t touch bots and therefore our digital infrastructure helped us overcome the crisis,” said Adina Eckstein, chief of staff at artificial intelligence and behavioral economics-powered insurance agency Lemonade. Eckstein spoke to CTech editor Elihay Vidal as part of a panel discussing human resources at tech companies during Google and Calcalist’s Startups Week conference. The panel also featured Lilit Hagemeier, VP People at Healthy.io, and Renana Schamroth, VP of HR at Verbit.

“As a result of the virus, regular insurance companies, which don’t have a digital foundation found themselves in trouble,” Eckstein said. “Lemonade is a digital insurance agency that uses AI to form a different relationship between the company and its clients in such a way as to prevent conflict of interests. All the money that the customers pay, their monthly premiums, whatever isn’t used to pay claims, at the end of the year goes to the charity of their choice. We take our cut to cover operational costs upfront and the remainder goes to charity.”

What was the moment that you realized something dramatic was taking place, where did the crisis find you and the company?

“I don’t think I can single out a specific moment. I think that by around February we started to realize that this was going to be a pandemic that would have a major impact on the company from a business sense and also on the workers and activity in the office,” said Eckstein. “We started making plans and on March 12 we decided that the entire global operation would move to work from home, it was slightly before the government regulations demanded it.”

“The nature of our work, regardless of the virus, is such that teams are able to operate independently. We work in task forces, so after a week of testing whether we could manage to get the jobs done from home, we decided pretty quickly to move everyone to work remotely, apart from two very critical teams that continued to arrive to work in the labs and in production,” said Hagemeier, whose company Healthy.io manufactures smartphone-based home urine tests.

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“We were pretty used to remote work and our teams were familiar with all the various enabling technologies, so we didn’t see a reason to test out working from home. The moment the schools and public transportation closed down we moved to work from home and have been doing it ever since,” said Schamroth.

Did the crisis cause you to make any changes to the product or approach clients differently?

“What we do is take your smartphone and turn it into a clinical device, enabling tests to be done at home. The two tests we facilitate are urine tests and monitoring of chronic injuries. We realized that we need to create certainty for our people about what we do and where we are going. We called it the ‘No FOFO’ approach,” said Hagemeier. “After much deliberation, we decided to focus on our existing product –facilitating home testing. This period has increased the need for making remote digital testing accessible and our decision to stick to our strategy and not move on to other products, provided a lot of clarity and focus for people. It minimized the noise amid the great uncertainty in the market.”

“Our company offers technological transcription that combines artificial intelligence and human intelligence to provide our clients with quick and accurate service,” said Schamroth. “We identified a growing need for online services from our clients, who are mostly from academic and legal circles, and who also moved to remote work for the most part. Those needs required us to adjust our product.”

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