Return to the Office: Empowering Teams and Individuals

Return to the Office: Empowering Teams and Individuals

Children's Mercy used research, industry insights and employee feedback to navigate the return to the office.

The often talked about new normal is quickly approaching. For many organizations, this means figuring out what a modern workforce might look like to best suit their goals.

Children's Mercy Kansas City is in the middle of this process. With one-third of its 8,400-employee workforce in a forced-remote capacity by March of 2020, the hospital’s leadership started to understand what the workplace may look like moving forward.

"We quickly realized that we needed to look at working from home as a long-term possibility,” says Jennifer Kingry, vice president of finance at Children’s Mercy. “By May of 2020, we formed a remote work project team and pulled insights from facilities, finance, human resources, information systems, strategic planning and compliance."

The remote work team started with research and industry insights to understand its organizational needs, then conducted internal surveys to get feedback from employees.

With an overwhelmingly positive reaction to remote work, the team moved to establishing clear guidelines and implementation efforts.

“So much of this project was about change management and communicating to staff why we were doing things and how we were doing it,” says Kingry.

High-level policy was outlined by the remote work team, including remote work definitions, employee standards, and technology standards. Then, leaders and managers determined eligibility for remote work based on the specific job tasks and business needs. Each team classified roles as on-site, partially remote, or fully remote.

After the roles were classified, additional guidelines were set on a team-by-team basis. Managers worked with their teams to identify the type of work conducted at home and the office, communication preferences and schedules for each employee.

“Having our policies in writing and then making sure we all understand them was an important lesson and huge enabler for this work,” says Kingry.

Children’s Mercy has rolled out its updated policies and effective July 1, 2021, and 1,800 employees will be fully or partially remote.

A Closer Look at Children’s Mercy’s Remote Workforce
Partially Remote Employees Fully Remote Employees Total
 Non-clinical 487 743 1,230
 Clinical 531 131 662
 Total 1,018 874 1,892


Most of the remote employees are non-clinical roles, such as finance, HR, communications, IT and other business-related functions. However, around 650 clinical roles now classify as either partially or fully remote.

Determined by clinical leaders, the remote clinical roles include staff who do most of their work on the phone or computer. For example, the triage nurses and the nurses assigned to the phones in Children’s Mercy clinics can do prior authorizations and complex scheduling remotely.

Another important factor was the technology and office space considerations for a remote work mode. By May of 2020, Children’s Mercy had to purchase and update their existing technology to enable remote work. As employees return to the office, the physical space may start to change as well.

“We'll be looking at our facility footprint,” says Kingry. “As we have folks coming back on-site, a longer-term design process will ensure our space matches our work.”

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