Will tech workers return to facilities post COVID? The continued rollout of vaccines means it is time for CIOs to consider long-term plans for staff to remain either fully remote, partially remote (hybrid), or in-office. In fact, this was a popular panel discussion at the CHIME21 Spring Forum. Executive-level panelists were asked about retention and recruitment post COVID, associated challenges, and how these challenges are handled at their facilities. Their responses sparked the idea for a post discussing the influences and challenges CIOs face when creating a hybrid work model that supports the facility as well as the employees.
The following Q&A is from the CHIME panel, The Health Provider Voice - Executive Perspectives: Post-COVID Trends Shaping Healthcare, sponsored by Optimum Healthcare IT.
Q: With new work patterns, including working from home and an upcoming hybrid work model, how do you feel about retention and recruitment and the challenges that might sit there? Is the idea that employees can be recruited to work from their home going to impose a healthcare IT challenge?
A: We can recruit across the country and are intentionally recruiting in different time zones, especially in information security. In terms of retention, leadership is focusing on employee career paths and goals. Employees are feeling disconnected remotely and aren’t feeling that they have the necessary time to show their abilities, and they have not adequately addressed it yet. - Jim Noga, VP & CIO, Mass General Brigham
A: The organization is our specific culture. We recruit people and, when they come in person, they see, feel, and understand the culture. How do they extend this to the remote worker who has never been to the hospital and doesn’t understand the mission or vision? How do we make the virtual employee feel connected to the organization so they can't be recruited away to another facility? - Theresa Meadow, MS, RN, CHCIO, FHIMSS, SVP & CIO, COOK Children's Hospital
Hospitals seeking inspiration may benefit from this recent article featuring Providence Hospital’s plans to ensure a flexible and collaborative workplace post COVID.
Companies are increasingly moving IT infrastructure to the cloud and outsourcing technical support functions, so IT employees that may have needed to come in to work on physical equipment or at a call center are less important. Roles like business analysts, project managers, developers and QA testers can all work remotely now. Other roles like clinical application analysts, superusers and biometric equipment technicians may need to come into work because they support clinical end users on-site, particularly during implementations and upgrades.
This is a topic that strikes close to home, as Forward Advantage recently moved to a hybrid remote workforce post COVID. Despite a sprinkling of remote workers over the years, the culture at Forward Advantage has been predominantly in-office. The pandemic proved to be a solid test on remote worker productivity and employee satisfaction, so those employees with job functions that can be managed remotely were able to remain remote, and shared conference rooms and workspaces on-site can be reserved as needed.
Forward Advantage has a rich company culture and continues to develop methods to engage and connect employees through virtual events and communications. While evolving into a company with a predominantly remote workforce, customer success is still the front and center of our brand promise.
The pandemic forced major changes into nearly every workplace, many of which have yielded positive outcomes. The ability to work remotely or in a hybrid setting is a prime example. Remote employees can be recruited from any location which widens the talent pool. Employees who work remotely, even part-time, typically report an improved work-life balance and job satisfaction which can lead to greater retainment. However, the challenge is to ensure that employees do not feel disconnected from coworkers, the company culture, and opportunities for professional growth. The right balance may be found with a hybrid model that allows employees to utilize on-demand, shared workspaces. One place to start is by asking employees what they want and what their requirements will be moving forward.