COVID-19 as catalyst: The future of work and the workplace in health care

This article was first published on Deloitte Insights and authored by Jennifer Radin and Casey Korba.

At the start of 2020, few health care organizations imagined that within months, most of their nonclinical (and in some cases, clinical) workforce would be working from home. COVID-19 has accelerated and catalyzed several aspects of the future of work and the future of health that might otherwise have taken years. The end state is neither clear nor predictable, but health care organizations understand that few people will return to the workplace they knew a few months ago and are exploring strategies and solutions to transform the way we work. Our research shows the challenges are many—with concerns about the loss of organizational culture topping the list. However, there are opportunities to innovate; solidify diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and priorities; focus efforts around mental and spiritual health and well-being; develop and attract talent and new capabilities; and thrive.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,1 in the fall of 2019:

  • 85% of employees never worked from home

  • 8% occasionally did (i.e., once a month or less)

  • Less than 3% worked from home one to two days a week

Almost overnight, COVID-19 forced many health care organizations to revisit traditional ways of working and engaging employees. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions surveyed 100 employees from health systems and health plans and interviewed 13 chief human resources officers (CHROs) to explore how organizations are maintaining productivity and engagement among remote workforces; developing effective, forward-looking virtual work strategies; and building resilient workforces. Our research shows that while virtual work is working well for both employees and leadership, organizations should harness this opportunity to transform the way they work.

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