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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Viewing Our Workplace Through a New Lens

June 8th, 2021

Fiscal year 2022 is nearly upon us and it will require us to look at our workplace through a different kind of lens.

On Sept. 13, some groups within Michigan Medicine will return to on-site work full time, while others will continue to work remotely, either part or full time. We are still in the process of making those final decisions and plans on a department by department basis. 

As we begin to imagine ourselves on the other side of this pandemic, we know it won’t look and feel exactly like it does today, and it definitely won’t return to what our world was like before December 2019, when the first case of the coronavirus was reported.

The word of the day, and likely the year ahead of us, seems to be “hybrid.” When I look up that word, it is defined generically as “composed of mixed parts.” While this may sound simple, we are taking a very thoughtful, and at the same time, flexible, approach. This is why we established the Michigan Medicine Flexible First Workforce and Workplace initiative to help balance the needs of our organization with employee preferences.

We will hopefully cast off the worst of the pandemic in the coming months – the awkward distancing, the polarizing viewpoints, and rigid requirements for masking. Then, based on what we have learned, we will retain the best of it – the more efficient use of technology, gained productivity and reduced expenses from remote work, and a stronger sense of teamwork, knowing we get things done better together. 

We have an opportunity to shape our future work environment, while building an even stronger, more united team.

In addition, it is important to pause and consider how to best sustain a healthier work life balance for everyone. We have all been through a lot and we have to remind ourselves that we will need time to heal and restore ourselves. In truth, many of us may continue to experience a recovery period for some time after we no longer have COVID-19 positive patients.

Michigan Medicine and U-M have many resources available for your personal wellness. I urge everyone to take advantage of these great services. All related websites and materials can be found on this  Well-being webpage of the Path Forward website.

When I think back at all the extraordinary work we have achieved together throughout the pandemic, most of all I remember that it was your resilience and adaptability that got us through the toughest challenges. It is that kind of open-mindedness and willingness to adjust and adapt which will allow us to develop the best possible workplace solutions that will benefit all of Michigan Medicine.

So I invite all of you to look at our workplace through that new lens. Imagine how you can improve your work environment. How you can pause in your day for better work life balance. Now is the time to make a difference for yourself and your team.

What would you like to change about your work environment? Share your suggestions or comments in the discussion box below.

48 Comments

  • Michelle Ellsworth

    As a triage nurse at Briarwood 2, the hybrid model has been working extremely well for us. It allows for a quieter environment when talking with patients (less background noise), so that they can actually hear the conversation. The decreased number of staff being in our enclosed space has helped to decrease the spread of illness and decreased call ins. Staff satisfaction is much higher. When I compare the pros and cons, the positive benefits of a hybrid model outweighs the cons. I would like to see this being a permanent employee option or model for our clinic to continue as long as clinic needs are met though this model. I do find this is at least one positive change for nursing in our clinic that has come out of all the changes made as the result of the pandemic.

    • Marschall Runge

      Thank you Michelle, for your input. It is good to know this has been beneficial to you and patients as well. Please let your leaders know how you feel about this.

  • I am an outpatient nurse who job is solely telephone triage. Working from home has been such a blessing for the past year. Not only has it kept me safe, it has dramatically increased my job satisfaction. Eliminating my commute and parking has given me 2.5 extra hours each day. I am a working mom with 2 young kids. This extra time has been priceless.

    Please consider making working from home, for those whose job allows, a permanent change.

    • Marschall Runge

      I’m happy to hear work from home has been beneficial for you. Make sure you share your preferences with your department leader.

  • The hybrid model of working remotely and being on site gives me work life balance. As a nurse leader 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 detail work that in the long run will improve patient care. The hybrid model also allows me to flex my schedule to meet off shift needs. Working remotely allows gives me more time ( 2 hours) that I can contribute to my well being.

    • Marschall Runge

      Tonie, you have listed a lot of good points here for work at home leadership. Thanks for your input.

  • Working from home has allowed me to have a great work life balance. It has decreased call offs in the winter due to the snow and bad weather conditions. With schools being virtual and up in the air about everything. It has allowed me to keep my daughter home from school when sick and not have to miss work. I am able to focus more and not have the interruptions and distractions of multiple people talking in the background while working in a call center. I am able to complete my job 100% and have not had any issues when reaching out for help. I truly enjoy working from home and makes my job a little bit easier and less stressful being able to focus better.

    Thank you,
    Beth

  • We entered the work place in March, with a team of 5 each member takes one day a week. To keep track of the need, each member documents the foot traffic for the day they work, this is done because our area is considered a customer service area. We did this for a couple of reasons 1) to see if we needed to increase employee presence based on need and 2) to see if our area could work efficiently in hybrid model. Over the past 3 months on any given day our customer base never exceeded 3 which documents that we can meet the needs of our customer base while allowing staff to continue to work remotely.

    With all of the enhancements made to our systems to allow for remote working, I believe that our area can continue to work as efficiently as it has over the past 15 months which we have documented. We have for 2 seasons now, run our resident recruitment, credentialing, scheduling and orientation successfully under the constraints of COVID and many staff member would like to continue on with this model.

    We are certainly open to increasing office staff presence for all activities that warrants more of a presence but would like our administration to consider our reasoning.

    Allowing us to do so will provide for a better work/life balance while increasing work productivity, reducing stress (parking, traffic), money saved (both employer and employee), lower stress, happier home life, and time recovered.

    This will also allow us to maintain our competitiveness in the workplace by maintaining employee satisfaction to keep them from looking at other jobs within the University that pay the same but they can work remotely.

    I believe that Michigan Medicine is forward thinking and I hope it allows for it’s employees to have a voice in this return to work process.

    • Marschall Runge

      Janice, I appreciate all the work that went into your analysis of your work situation. You obviously had your customers in mind when you considered your work arrangements. You have made a solid case for your current hybrid model for your team.

  • Thank you for looking at a hybrid or entirely remote model for work at Michigan Medicine. Allowing support and flexibility for staff improves work-life balance. Because I do not have to take time to get as ready for work, commute, park, etc., I actually find that I work more hours in a day when I work remotely. I have less interruptions in a remote setting and end my day feeling more accomplished. When I do commute to work, parking has been easier as well. I am still able to monitor and track my employees’ work when completed remotely and ensure that we are still meeting standards.This has been a welcomed change to our work at Michigan Medicine, and while not applicable to every discipline of course, this model better aligns us with other organizations and systems, both in and out of health care. Thank you for your time.

    • Marschall Runge

      Thank you for your feedback. I am glad this flexible arrangement has worked out for your team so well.

  • I thoroughly enjoy working the hybrid way as a clinic nurse in the cancer center. It allows me to have more of a work/home balance which relieves tons of stress and anxiety for me. Parking has been an extreme issue with working on site and has not been much of an issue since the COVID pandemic. This has been a tremendous relief.
    I truly also feel that working the hybrid way still allows us to still provide the best care to patients and has not interfered by no means. I hope this continues to be a long term option for us.

    • Marschall Runge

      Great to hear that this is working out for you, Mekeia. Please let your thoughts be known to your leaders.

  • I am happy to see Michigan Medicine explore moving forward past the pandemic. As for remote work vs in person work; there are benefits to both. I personally choose to come into the office because I like to separate home from work. However, I can see why remote is popular. It saves the staff transportation money, saves time by not having to commute.
    One downfall of remote work is it makes it harder to collaborate and build much needed relationships with your team. I respect those who do wish to work from home however.

    • Marschall Runge

      Tom, I appreciate the respect you are showing for those who don’t share the same opinion as you. It is honorable that you can see and appreciate both sides of this issue.

  • David McClintock

    I believe that the key word here is flexibility. I know for the teams I am a part of, we have all expressed support for everyone to have the flexibility of working from home or working from the office when needed. We see where there are deficiencies with everyone working from home (personal connections, team building, quick resolution of issues), but also recognize the benefits of being able to better accommodate everyone’s schedules and working style (kids/loved ones being sick/needing help, schools schedules changing, partner’s work schedules changing, better quality of life with shorter commutes). Given the change that has happened, we fully support a hybrid approach to allow our teams to best meet the evolving needs of both their work and home environments.

    We envision a workplace where teams have robust communication tools (MS365 with Teams, Sharepoint, etc.), but also have scheduled in person team-building exercises, touchpoints/huddles, and check-ins. We would like to see more support and acceptance of quick and informal means of communication with less reliance on email and a movement towards less meetings. Finally, I know for a fact that a return to a pre-covid, in the office only work environment will result in the loss of highly trained team members who see the benefits of a hybrid approach and are looking for an employer who supports it.

    • Marschall Runge

      I like your vision, David. I appreciate that you are looking at the positives from both perspectives. That is true flexibility. And while it could be true that we could lose people if we were to go back to the way it was, I believe it would be impossible at this point to return to the old way of doing things. Thanks for your input.

  • I have been on a hybrid schedule since the start of the pandemic ( 2days remotely and 2 days in office) I love my schedule. I do not think it affect my ability to perform my job responsibilities efficiently, accurately, and professionally as I would in office. I am hoping my department/supervisors are looking to ways to incorporate working remotely full or part time. I think it is cost effective for the company and staff, eliminate office space and traffic/parking around campus and off campus.

  • A printer would be extremely useful. I’ve learned to minimize print material, however, there are items I need to print daily.

    • Although it may be possible for some employees to receive additional equipment needs in the future, you will have to wait a bit longer for an answer to that question, Brenda. As workforce strategies emerge over the coming weeks and months, HITS will evaluate work-related equipment needs and will continue to update the HITS Tech Guide to Working Remotely. Leadership also is currently evaluating financial support for employees for their remote-work activities.

  • I am thankful in working remotely because this gives me the opportunity to work full time, yet take care of my elderly mom (89 years young) who also needs me too. As well as take a college course. My faculty staff may reach me anytime of the day or night by email or direct text or phone. I leave myself available for their needs. The advantages in technology has made this happen, and much before the Covid virus, many offices have employees work from home. This works very well with parents of younger children, and disabled elderly parents or spouses. Thank you.

    • Marschall Runge

      We can thank technology for driving a lot of the benefits we now have with this new hybrid model. I’m glad you are enjoying your current work environment and the extra time with your family.

  • I love working from home. I am much happier and healthier not spending an hour commuting to and from work 5 days a week (10 hrs a week of unproductive time).

    At first, i didn’t think I would like working from home, as I have been a UM employee since 1987 and grew accustomed to commuting. Now, when I see how much more time I get to spend in my home, with my family and not sitting in a car with the added stress of crazy drivers, I can’t imagine having to return to working on campus full time.

    Currently, I go to the office one Sunday a month to catch up on things I can’t do from home. Coming to the office part-time seems reasonable, but I certainly hope I don’t have to return to commuting 5 days/wk when I haven’t missed a beat working from home. Still, I remain flexible for whatever my work area needs.

  • Allow all employees working from home over the past year and a half the option to continue working from home permanently. It has been so nice to not have the added hassle of dealing with offsite parking and busing. I dread a return to the office that requires wasting and hour and a half of my day commuting again. Working remotely has restored a better work life balance, and once RIF’s were completed, working from home has allowed work to be a peaceful and safe environment. A place of serenity.

  • I feel as an entity, MM employees have went above and beyond to provide stellar work performances within their job titles all while working remote. My work life balance has improved greatly while working remote and I look forward to taking part in that remote work hybrid model permanently.

  • I have been working from home now over a year as many of my colleagues have. It was a smooth transition as I had most of the equipment necessary to do so, (i.e. computer, internet access, phone, dedicated area). I would love to continue remote working as we move forward. The quietness helps me focus on the tasks that need to be accomplished. That being said, it would be nice perhaps to have some social gatherings to stay connected with my work family.

  • I have worked with Michigan Medicine for 20 years. I never experienced a pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, I was spending 2 hours per day to and from work. During the pandemic,
    I personally noticed a tremendous amount of time I saved from driving and less stress. Also, working from home has been extremely helpful financially. The money MM is saving for office space and parking spaces should be a hug asset while staff like myself is currently working from home. While working from home, the communication and work ethics between myself and my faculty remain amazing. If I had my choice, I would prefer to work at home and go into the office once a month.

    • Marschall Runge

      Thank you for sharing your insights, April. I’m glad you have adjusted well to your work at home environment.

  • I have seen positive changes in meetings and conferences allowing for greater participation with virtual options. I think it is easier to be efficient with time working virtually – both due to a lack of interruption and a lack of travel time. It is sometimes difficult to draw the line between work and home but I find that an acceptable trade off for the many hours I previously lost to travel. I welcome the hybrid model and think Michigan Medicine will achieve the best of both worlds!

  • Anthony Provenzola

    Love the idea of flexibility. I’d like to continue working remotely most of the time but I’d also like the option to have a flex space I could use if necessary!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anthony. Let your leaders know your preferences in the coming days. In addition, you can visit the Flexible First Workforce website and fill out the form to share your input with that team as well.

  • Thank you for asking us to partner in making these important decisions. For me, the hybrid model works well, allows flexibility and increases productivity. That being said there are some meetings better done in person. I also believe the office environment will change. Our phone conversations with patients and families need to be private so an open office environment would not be ideal but space might be limited to signing up for office space on days one anticipates being in the office. In addition, having less traffic to and from work and on the road will contribute to the goal of reducing the carbon footprint. Moreover, it may contribute to better parking for our patients.

    • I agree with a lot of these benefits and I know many departments are considering these “reserved” office space options for certain days. Here’s hoping that we can make an impact on our carbon footprint from all of this. Thanks for your suggestions Judith! You may also want to share them using the form on the Flexible First Workforce website.

  • It was an easy transition to work from home when the pandemic hit. I have enjoyed the flexibility working from home offers. The time on the road traveling to and from work is now spent with my family and has had a positive impact on my life outside of work. I appreciate the opportunity to work from home and hope my department will offer a hybrid work environment.

    • It sounds like your work from home situation has brought you some healthy work life balance. That is good to hear. Make sure you share your insights with your department leaders so they can take your thoughts into consideration. The Flexible First site also has a tool that allows employees to ask a question, make a suggestion, and offer feedback if you would like to use that. (listed on my blog)

  • So many of us have been working on-sight this whole time. When others return, we will experience more congestion in traffic, parking and in the buildings themselves. It took months to become comfortable with daily mask-wearing and distancing, and I am sure it will take a long time for some of us to be comfortable with shedding these protective layers and having people we haven’t seen roaming the halls in quite awhile. It is important to be patient with changing our atmosphere once again.

    • You have a good point, Christine. We appreciate your patience to date, and it will be important for others who arrive to be equally civil and respectful as everyone learns how to navigate the new space together.

  • Thank you for this discussion today. It’s very insightful and I can honestly say that I am SO proud to work at The University of Michigan! These past months have been challenging for all of us and the teamwork in our department have been nothing short of SPECTACULAR! I have actually been able to get more work done working from home. I greatly appreciate being able to work from home and it’s been a blessing!

    • Lori, thank you for supporting Michigan Medicine from your home office, and thanks to your team for your great collaborative spirit.

  • The hardest thing for me was being Furloughed for 3 months after 43 years of service. Our whole team was so our work sat. When we came back it was a total mess and we are still digging out of it. I wouldn’t change my environment. I didn’t think I would like working from home but I love it. I do miss my coworkers but that just gives us an excuse to go out and visit with no time constraints. I am not going to say that this pandemic has been easy. It has been difficult in many ways. I love my job and what I am doing. It is always a privilege to be a part of Michigan Medicine.

    • Thank you for sharing your story with us, Cynthia. There have been many hardships through this pandemic, and I’m sorry to hear that you have had to experience a difficult furlough. With your support, and that of all your co-workers at Michigan Medicine, we were able to survive our early days of the pandemic. We couldn’t have done that without your sacrifice. I’m glad to hear that you are back at work and enjoying your work at home environment. We appreciate you.

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