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Monday, September 14, 2020

Working Remotely, Here to Stay?

 When I first thought about this article, many of us were scrambling to prepare for our workforces to begin working remotely as states were shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Fast forward a few months and we are still working from home.  Some states are even considering shutting down again.   

Many offices were already set up for telecommuting, as was ours and the transition wasn’t difficult.  Our phone calls come in via email, that includes a recording of the message as well as a text message, we connect to email and files over a virtual private network (VPN), and we all have computers and printers in our home offices. There was no lag time working remotely.  We stay in touch with email, cell phones and monthly Zoom staff meetings. No more than two people are in the office at one time and everyone has hand sanitizer.  Masks are required in common areas and by all visitors.                        

Some of you let your employees work from home as long as their work can be done remotely and there’s a good Internet connection.  While most don’t allow employees to take office equipment home, some allow employees to use their own equipment or they provide a laptop and monitor.  Employees who have to make outbound calls or receive inbound calls, leave their work phone number as a call back number and use the voice mail to email platform or other software. 

Remote workers have productivity goals in place and employees must be at 100% productivity or greater.  Some lucky workers have flex time, which works well for those with spouses or children at home. 

Linda Patry, CRCE, President of the AAHAM Virginia Chapter and Director of Patient Financial Services at Mary Washington Healthcare instituted telework for her team earlier this year. She shared her productivity techniques below:    

“If someone has a job where it’s hard to measure productivity, we ask the Associate to keep a list of work they do every day, which they pass onto their Supervisor at the end of the week.  They are expected to be readily available via phone or instant message.  We report out on productivity to each Associate weekly.  Managers and Directors are copied on those emails as well.  Each Supervisor (who also works from home) has a quick morning meeting with their team members to ensure that everyone is doing well and has no questions or issues.  Supervisors must also distribute a list of work/projects they have done over the week.”

If you or your facility is considering telework, here are some tips on what you need to set up a home office: 

·         A designated area or room to separate home from work as well as add privacy

·         A comfortable desk with space to spread out

·         Sufficient lighting

·         USB and electrical outlets

·         A strong Wi-Fi signal

·         Sufficient Internet speed, the more, the better (at least 3 Mbps)

·         A desktop or laptop computer with a built-in webcam, microphone and speakers

·         A telephone headset is helpful if you are on the phone a lot

·         A printer with extra paper and toner

·         A file cabinet or mobile file drawers

·         A green plant to bring a touch of nature inside and also to help clean the air  

·         An uncluttered wall or area to use as a back drop for videoconferencing  

The benefits of working from home are many: 

No Commute 

No commute equals no wasted time!  The average full-time worker spends an average of 4.35 hours a week or 200 hours+ a year commuting.  It saves money on gas and wear and tear on your car and is good for the environment.


Healthy Meals

Working from home offers the ability to cook a quick, healthy meal and saves money by not eating lunch out and opting for fast food.  Use leftovers or make ahead meals.  Stock your fridge with healthy snack options, like fruit, nuts, raw veggies, cheese cubes and sparkling water.

Fewer Sick Days

People who work from home take fewer sick days and get sick less often.      


Wear Whatever You Want       

Whatever helps you be productive and in work mode, go for it.  Some people prefer to dress like they were going to the office, others prefer casual or athleisure wear. 


These uncertain times can create anxiety and stress.  Maybe these times can also help us reflect on what is truly important and add to our personal growth, be kinder, more grateful and more empathetic.                 






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