Austin-based Sana is a healthcare startup that provides health insurance plans as an alternative to big insurance providers like Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Cigna, and Humana. It competes with them by providing insurance that is, on average, 30 percent cheaper. Will Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Sana, recently answered questions about how the Pandemic has affected Sana’s operations.

Q. Has the Covid-19 Pandemic changed the way Sana Benefits works?

A. Yes and no. Yes, because we previously had an office in Austin that our sales team and others worked out of before the pandemic. Those employees and teams had to switch to a work from home model which was an adjustment. No, because most of our team was already remote before the pandemic so we already had good systems in place to hire and manage remote teams.

Q. Do you plan to adopt new ways of working as a result of the Pandemic?

A. The pandemic has deepened our commitment to remote work. If we were 90 percent committed before COVID we are now 100 percent.

A. When do you plan to return to the office?

We are figuring out our strategy now. It’s less and less likely we have a traditional office setup going forward. Having clusters of part-time opt-in coworking might be what we lean into, but all options are still on the table.

Q. Do you require employees to get vaccinated?

A. No. We strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated because we believe the science supports it, but ultimately it’s a personal health choice and we respect that boundary. As we return to in-person events we may request that people who have not been vaccinated abide by stricter mask protocols.

Q. What are you doing to promote company culture and motivate your team while they are working remotely?

A. The best thing you can do for company culture – whether remote or in-person – is to hire motivated people and give them the opportunity to do rewarding work. That’s far and away the most important thing we focus on. We also do things like virtual watercooler channels in slack, randomly assigned groups for social zoom hangouts (opt-in basis) and team happy hours.

Q. Has remote work been beneficial or detrimental to the growth of your business?

A. As a health plan that helps businesses save on costs, Sana’s messaging really resonated with employers during the pandemic. Employees’ health was top of mind and the bottom line was hurting as the economy contracted. We grew a lot last year.