For Better and Worse, the Pandemic has Transformed the way Health System and Health Plan Employees Work | Deloitte US has been saved
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By Jen Radin, principal, chief innovation officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Not long ago, my workdays were often spent on airplanes and in conference rooms all around the country. Since March, I’ve been spending my days on video conference calls while sitting on a rather uncomfortable chair in my semi-private (I have three kids) home office.
In the nine months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, video calls have been a lifeline connecting our homes and professional lives. However, we are beginning to see what can be lost when we can’t interact with colleagues and customers in person. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions recently surveyed 100 employees from health systems and health plans and interviewed 13 chief human resources officers (CHROs) to find out how these organizations are keeping their virtual employees engaged, productive, and connected. We also wanted to know how the pandemic is likely to alter the way these employees work in the future.
Many CHROs have already concluded that the traditional office work environment might never return. Just 6% of surveyed employees said they wanted to return to the five-day-a-week onsite schedule. But rather than using technology to replicate the onsite environment, our research indicates leaders want to leverage technology to reimagine work, teams, and culture.
Five things we’ve learned about virtual work
A year ago, 85% of US employees said they never worked from home, and fewer than 3% said they worked from home one or two days a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of the end of June, more than 40% of the US workforce was working remotely.1 For many organizations, the transition from office work to home-office work was abrupt and immediate. Here’s what we’ve learned:
Since the spring, the line between work life and home life has blurred. Without the physical separation between work and the other parts of our lives, it can be difficult to know where our work life ends and where our personal life begins. Most of the CHROs we interviewed said they have noticed that many employees have trouble ending their workday. Being plugged in to work around the clock can lead to burnout, which has huge costs for employees and their organizations.2 The challenges of balancing work life and home life has forced some people to make difficult decisions about their careers. This phenomenon is falling disproportionately on women, and that worries me a lot because of the equity implications. As team leaders, we all need to empathize with our workforces as we all navigate this new work environment. Empathy can be as simple as asking, “how are you doing?” and “how can I help?”
The shift to virtual work has shown that productivity and performance can no longer be judged by the number of hours an employee spends in an office. Despite the challenges many of us face with virtual work, there are opportunities where health care organizations can innovate, find new ways of working, and place more emphasis on the mental, physical, and spiritual health of our employees (something is already core to their mission and purpose).
1. Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy, Stanford News, June 29, 2020
2. Working from home poses serious dangers for employers and employees alike, FORTUNE, August 2, 2020
JENNIFER RADIN, Deloitte Consulting LLP, is a principal and the chief innovation officer for Deloitte's Health Care practice. She also leads the Future of Work in Health Care signature issue. With more than 20 years of experience in life sciences and health care, Radin is a national speaker and key advisor to health care leaders, helping them transform their organizations to execute strategies for growth that improve clinical outcomes, enhance patient and family experiences, improve affordability and access, and increase caregiver engagement. She is based in New York.