Building our Workplace of the FutureNovember 2nd, 2021
Back in June, I invited you to look at your workplace through a new lens – to imagine how you could improve your work environment. So many of you provided insightful comments, I thought now would be a good time to look at the innovative arrangements teams have developed to help us not only remain flexible during the remainder of the pandemic, but also prepare for our new future.
The Flexible First Workforce and Workplace Team informed me that 80 teams (ranging in size from 5 to 150+ employees) have already developed new workplace arrangements, varying schedules and shared workspace plans. It is projected that these early adjustments to our lease strategy will provide Michigan Medicine with an annual savings of $4.6 million.
The Flexible First concept of customizing work environments based on specific unit/department needs and guided by business necessity makes sense…and it is working. As we define these workplace models, I’ve noticed that teams are considering new arrangements in a very innovative and meaningful way.
Take, for example, the Office of Surgery Education. This five-member team rotates working one day a week onsite, with the remainder working from home. Each member documented the daily foot traffic to see if they could efficiently meet the needs of the surgical team under this hybrid model. They also surveyed their customers to ensure they were happy with the new arrangements.
This analytical approach proved this hybrid model worked for the team, their customers and Michigan Medicine. According to Education Director, Janice Davis, the new arrangement also provides a better work/life balance while increasing work productivity, reducing stress (parking, traffic), and saving money for both the team members and the organization.
Of course, moving to hybrid work environments are much more complex and time consuming for larger teams, but many large administrative teams found that, with the help of technology and collaborative brainstorming, they could quickly establish hybrid workplaces.
The 125-member Office of Development moved from a 24,000-square-foot leased space to a planned 13,000 square-foot space, after getting staff input through surveys and committee groups. Team members sign up for cube space when needed and share conference rooms with the other functional areas in the building and even use nearby restaurants for team meetings.
Chief Development Officer, Eric Barritt, has crunched the numbers and discovered that productivity and the team’s overall philanthropic gifts exceeded FY21 year-end budget.
The 115-member Patient Experience Team went from having 100% of its workforce onsite to 40% using a part-time hybrid model, while others work remotely. The team moved from various offices around Ann Arbor to one space in the NCAC, where team members use an online tool to schedule a desk for the day, when needed. Similar to the Development Team, productivity did not suffer, and they even found that more patients were willing to participate in Patient and Family Advisory Councils when done virtually.
While it’s understandable that many frontline staff can’t adjust their workplace to accommodate hybrid solutions, the Flexible First Team has noticed more flexibility within clinical departments, among faculty, administrators and in the computational/dry research areas.
Nurse Leader Tonie Owens is not always able to work remotely but due to COVID-19, it made sense to stay home to work whenever possible. In an earlier blog comment, she shared, “Working remotely gives me the space to dig deeper into understanding and maintaining implementation processes. Trying to do this deep work in a busy clinical setting with many interruptions distracts from the detailed work that in the long run will improve patient care.”
Hybrid Workplaces as a Solution to Staffing Shortages
Providing flexible options to employees can also be a strong recruitment and retention tool. If we want the best talent – and we do – we must think about work differently. It’s a new world and we must allow our employees to flex their work schedules to accommodate their personal lives.
As Chief Development Officer Eric Barritt explained it, “We want the best talent to want to be here, so if an employee has to pick their kids up at 3:45, we need to accept and embrace it. This builds trust, shows that we are making an investment in them and makes us a sought after, competitive employer.”
I couldn’t agree more.
One final point: As we move forward in this hybrid/remote environment, we will be challenged to find a delicate balance between work and home life. The challenge for many of our hard-working, dedicated staff members will be to remember when your workday ends. Individuals need to find moments to pause throughout their day and leaders need to support the well-being of their teams by avoiding work overload and stress.
We are living in a time of change and uncertainty, which can leave many of us feeling a bit uneasy. Remember these wellness resources are available if needed.
As teams continue to redefine their workspaces, please know that the Flexible First Workforce and Workplace team has many resources available and will continue to share information and guidance as needed. For more information visit the Flexible First website.
Share your suggestions or your own team’s experience with defining the workplace of the future, using the discussion box below.