As a healthcare technology company, we’ve had two major items on our mind: We’ve been looking for ways to help our customers who have been overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, and we have been looking for ways to regain our sense of community after working remotely for more than two months. The coronavirus pandemic has strained many of our customers as they work harder than ever to coordinate safe, high-quality patient care. That’s why we wanted to support their efforts in any way we could.

Our idea was to organize a “virtual” 5k on May 29 to benefit the frontline staff at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. We were able to secure a $10 donation for every participant, and we invited our sister company, PatientKeeper, to participate as well.

The 5k Gets a New Look

“The motivation to have a virtual 5K was to give our work colleagues experience that showed we were still moving forward,” said Vice President of Sales Diane Fokas, who was on the organizing committee.

We quickly learned that organizing a virtual activity presents some logistical challenges. First, how could people indicate that they were participating? How could we make the virtual event as engaging as an in-person race would be? The more fun and interesting we could make the 5k, the more participation we would get, thereby raising our donations.

Fortunately, our colleagues know how to get creative. Our invitation to PatientKeeper became a challenge to see who could get more participants. We leveraged a dedicated channel on Slack to share running tips, training recaps and local routes.

“The supportive Slack channel really motivated me to finally go out on a run, and I am so glad I did it,” said Product Manager Emily Zhu, “even though exercising with a mask can be unpleasant.”

And, even though we couldn’t train together, hosting a socially distant race allowed us to be more flexible in many ways. Colleagues ended up running, walking, biking, even using a virtual reality headset to participate. Some ran their race at the crack of dawn—before the heat and humidity set in—while others opted for a post-workday sweat.

A Virtual Group Effort

“It felt great to contribute to something that brought us all together even when we were far apart,” said Vice President of Solutions & Support Mike Iwanek.

To feel a little more connected, everyone was invited to share their start and finish photos, and any other pictures from their unique race. Some of the most scenic and creative were selected to win a small prize. After our races were run, the team joined a virtual happy hour to congratulate each other and look at everyone’s race photos.

“Honestly we had no idea how this would turn out,” Fokas said. “This was way more fun than we imagined; we have a creative crew. We all got to see folks in their world—with family, pets, neighborhoods, mountain tops and more!”

When all was said and done, we raised $10 per participant for a total of $450 for Portsmouth Regional Hospital. Raising money for this cause brought us closer as a company, at a time when we are physically so far apart. While there is a little we as individuals can do to make a difference during this pandemic, our virtual 5k demonstrated that, as a group, we can have a much greater impact.

And despite the tense and chaotic circumstances, we will continue to search for creative solutions, and solve problems through collaboration. We will continue to focus on the strong relationships we have built to forge even stronger partnerships. This is our way forward.