Adapting to COVID-19 and Creating a Culture Without Walls

John Horner
February 10, 2023
13 min read
Miles IT Team conference room

By now, everyone knows how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended and altered the lives of people around the globe.

From doctors conducting telehealth appointments to entire companies moving to remote operations, the world looks vastly different in 2023 than it did in 2019.

How did Miles IT, a largely in-person organization, adapt to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic?

By making impactful short and long-term decisions, we were able to survive and even thrive during and after this crisis.

Our story is a tribute to the vision and work of our employees to adapt and move forward during this difficult time.

Before: 2019

What was Miles IT like before the pandemic?

Before COVID-19, Miles IT was very much an in-person organization.

For the majority of staff, working from the main office in Lumberton, NJ, was the norm. Only a handful of employees worked from home, and they were in extremely unique situations.

During this time, the office was the heart of company culture at Miles. It was where team members could grab a bite to eat at lunchtime, play friendly (or not-so-friendly) games of Ping-Pong and pickleball, and host company-wide events and activities.


Each team member used jumbo blocks to build their own unique desk and workspace. Families were invited to help construct the desks, attend special events, and more.

How was the Miles IT yearly theme affected by COVID-19?

Every year, we select a theme that frames the goals and vision of our company. This theme serves as a guide and reminder throughout the year.

In December 2019, we selected our yearly theme for 2020: “Increased Flexibility For Our Staff.”


Our goal was to evolve as a company and take advantage of innovative and expansive pathways.

Little did we know, these opportunities would be much different than we originally thought.

As the events of March 2020 began to unfold, we followed through on our theme and seized the opportunity in front of us: adapting and overcoming the odds of the shutdown.

A Culture without Walls from Miles IT on Vimeo.

During: 2020

How did Miles IT handle the uncertainty of the pandemic?

When the pandemic first began in March 2020, the main emotion everyone felt was fear.

Steven Snyder, Design & Multimedia Team Lead at Miles IT, remembers this clearly.

“When the pandemic first hit, it wasn’t just waking up and logging into your home computer and seamlessly getting to work,” he explains.

Steven recalls the uncertainty at this time and how it affected him as an employee: “There were a lot of obvious reasons to be nervous and scared, but business-wise, were you going to miss out on those conversations with coworkers and customers? How was the culture going to continue to be the same, or change for the better?”

In addition to the fears of disruption to daily routines and business activities, another concern was economic uncertainty.

On average, clients were spending less, which made it difficult for many employers to continue providing services and compensating employees.

With the unprecedented nature and unpredictability of the pandemic, it was difficult to know what it meant for our company—how we would compensate our employees, serve our clients, and come out strong on the other side.

All of these concerns made us question how to approach the situation.

Outmarket, Outsell, and Outcontribute

During the COVID-19 crisis, a key mantra for Miles IT was “Outmarket, Outsell, and Outcontribute.”

This aligned with our recommended strategy for handling economic uncertainty: get more people through the door.

By increasing the number of clients, downsizing isn’t necessary to reduce costs and regain lost profit.

But how exactly do you gain new clients?

What it comes down to is being creative with the ways you provide services, support employees, and promote your business.

If you believe in your company—your products, your services, and your people—then you should be investing in your business.


Our Vice President of Software Consulting, John Horner, calls this “Weathering the Storm or Selling Umbrellas.”

In order to succeed during uncertain times, you can’t only take a defensive approach; you need to take an offensive approach as well.

As John shared during a 2020 webinar, “If you choose to take a ‘wait and see’ approach during hard times, you can fall behind your competitors. Their focus may be on changing delivery models, preparing for the surge, and getting stronger. You won’t be successful if you just sit back and wait.”

Accordingly, we employed a combination of offensive and defensive mechanisms in response to the pandemic.

How did Miles IT continue to provide services during the pandemic?

As March 2020 progressed, the future remained uncertain as it became clear that COVID-19 would not be eradicated overnight.

One new development was that our clients needed more work, but they couldn’t afford to pay for the services.

Specifically, many clients needed assistance with remote work setup and optimization as their organizations transitioned to work-from-home models.

Description of the Remote Work Solutions offered as part of the Miles IT COVID-19 Assistance Program, as seen on the Miles IT website in 2020

IT services were suddenly more in demand than ever, and Miles IT helps customers with exactly that.

As more and more companies requested services, our number of IT tickets soared by 30%. More staff members would be needed to handle the additional work.

Around this time, the US government stepped in. They promised that they would provide assistance during this time and asked companies to keep their people gainfully employed.

With government support and increased demand for our services, it became clear that we would survive this crisis.

It was at this point that we started to reverse our thinking. How could we better help our customers during this time?

COVID-19 Assistance Program

Our main strategy for helping customers during this time was the Miles IT COVID-19 Assistance Program.

This program offered assistance to established businesses that were healthy before the pandemic, were forced to shut down or reduce operations, and planned to fully reopen.

We wanted to be there for our customers, whether that meant setting up remote work, transforming delivery models, or assisting with COVID-19 communications.

Description of the Miles IT COVID-19 Assistance Program, as seen on the Miles IT website in 2020

Our goal was to help them now so they could return even stronger when the economy recovered.

“We just decided to help our customers, no matter what,” says Dan Carpenter, President of IT Services. “Because at the end of the day, that’s what we do: we help the users of the business.”

To ensure all customers could receive the help they needed, we delayed payment for services until 30 days after our customers reopened their businesses.

We provided any combination of service offerings but didn’t require payment until our customers’ businesses were stable.

If their business didn’t reopen at all, they didn’t owe us anything.


One customer we helped during this time was McCollister’s Transportation Group.

To ensure employees could access information from anywhere, we helped McCollister’s migrate information to the Striven platform

The company could move 50% of its staff to work-from-home models after this switch.

Our team continued to provide infrastructure support and web design services to McCollister’s without charge until after their business had recovered.

As a result, McCollister’s was able to remain stable, reduce costs, and maintain productivity even as the world changed drastically.

Description of the services offered as part of the Miles IT COVID-19 Assistance Program, as seen on the Miles IT website in 2020

We also helped charitable organizations that were not business clients of ours.

One of those organizations was the Food Bank of South Jersey.

In April 2020, the food bank wanted to create a video message sharing how their emergency food distribution program would work.

Our team produced a video, free of charge, that shared how residents could access food resources.

This was published on the food bank’s website and social media platforms so they could distribute food during the crisis.

As the pandemic continued, our entire organization remained dedicated to supporting our community and making an impact.

Hiring Changes

Another adjustment we made during this time was reevaluating the idea of hiring in different geographical locations.

Before the pandemic, our philosophy was that people had to live within 45 minutes of the office. We believe in high quality of life for staff members, and having more than a 45-minute commute is not ideal.

Yet, as the number of IT tickets increased, we needed more staff to handle the additional workload.

Once we started discussing this, we realized that people could work from home successfully. After all, most of our staff was able to work remotely and remain productive, happy, and connected.

To alleviate our hiring issues, we started hiring people from different locations.

We found that this helped solve our staffing challenges and created better experiences for our employees.

At Miles IT, we’re committed to making decisions that benefit our staff, customers, and the overall company. Once we figure out that something is working better, we usually embrace that wholeheartedly.

In this case, we embraced the idea of remote work for our employees.

If staff members were working remotely in Mount Laurel, NJ, why couldn’t we hire someone from Wisconsin or California?

Within months, we made the decision to continue expanding our hiring in different regions.

Our ability to hire in different geographical areas has also increased with the help of our skilled recruiting team, who is always in search of new talent.

“It’s made my job easier because we can find talent absolutely anywhere,” says Chrysania McWain, Employee Success Manager. “It’s fantastic…it seems to be what everyone is looking for in the current climate.”

Committing to this decision was also a major Family Comes First success story.

As our #1 company belief, it’s important that staff members can spend quality time with family and meet important family obligations.

Now, with remote work, people don’t have to live within 45 minutes of the office. They have the freedom to move anywhere and live closer to their families.

After: 2021 and on

Looking back, starting with a big-picture mindset was the right choice as we decided how to handle this crisis and help Miles IT move forward.

We made long-term decisions to solve short-term problems, but with a long-term commitment to everything we do.

One of those decisions was expanding who we hire.

At Miles IT, we hire people for their careers. We weren’t going to offer staff a career opportunity that would disappear if they didn’t eventually move to Lumberton.

People can now live anywhere and still work for Miles IT.

Through this experience, we’ve found that remote work doesn’t diminish the opportunities for meaningful communication and productive collaboration.

That brought us to our yearly theme for 2021: Culture Without Walls. We focused on ensuring that employees had opportunities to make virtual connections and participate in company events.


“It still feels a lot like Miles working from home,” says Devin Shingle, Content Team Lead, who worked in the office before the pandemic.

Customer Success Manager Will Zane echoes this sentiment. “I have great relationships with my customers… as long as I am still able to help them and care about them, I don’t think there are any issues. For my coworkers, it’s the same thing. I do feel that I still have good friendships with coworkers that I’ve only met since we’ve been remote.”

This focus on care and support continued with our 2022 theme, Believe in Each Other. We championed our teams to believe in each other’s ability to work and learn independently.


Now, we believe any company can benefit from someone spectacular helping their business, no matter where they live.

Even though this changed our entire company’s way of thinking, we were able to solve short-term problems and transform them into opportunities.

From there, we could continue in a forward-thinking direction without looking back.

Always Moving Forward

As we move into 2023, that brings us to our current yearly theme: Always Moving Forward. We believe in looking ahead, staying proactive, and adapting to changing times and situations.


Although the COVID-19 virus is still present in our lives, the initial uncertainty of the pandemic has faded.

Like many other organizations, Miles IT has found ways to adapt to the changes brought on by this global shift. We are fortunate to have become stronger and more successful due to the decisions we made.

Now, we are more advanced at reaching clients with hands in the field than ever before in history. Our ability to service different geographical areas has skyrocketed.

With the help of our amazing recruiting team, we’ve hired many new staff members and grown the Miles IT family.

As a whole, our staff can help and support our customers even better than before.

Because of our decisions, we grew into a role of providing better service, offering a more flexible work environment, and expanding our hiring.

Although our physical office still exists, our ability to help each other and our customers isn’t solely tied to a physical space anymore.

Company culture is about more than a building.

It’s about loving the work and the people you work with every day.

As we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can create connections, provide high-quality service, and build a long-term career from anywhere.

Meet John Horner


John Horner has over 20 years of experience in the software industry. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and has served as an adjunct professor at Drexel University and Temple University. Today, he helps customers understand the root of their business challenges and provides consultation on how to accomplish goals and create new opportunities.

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