Tips for Hiring and Managing Remote Workers

According to a recent SHRM survey, nearly half of U.S. employees plan to seek remote work in their next job.

The implication for employers is clear:  adapt or lose out on available talent.

At the height of the pandemic, many healthcare IT organizations pivoted to some degree of remote work for non-essential employees.

But many of those same organizations have struggled with whether or not—and how—to formalize those temporary accommodations with official remote work policies.

We recently spoke to several IT hiring managers for our Epic Hiring Guide, and most told us that their health systems were adapting—and even thriving—with a shift to more flexible work.

“As horrible as COVID-19 was, it proved that we could work anywhere and be effective,” said Cynthia St Cyr Associate Executive Director, Revenue Cycle Management, New York City Health + Hospitals. “Every position that reports to me is almost fully remote, and you can live anywhere in the United States.”

Distinguish between fully remote and hybrid

Policies that encourage flexible work don’t necessarily mean everyone is fully remote. For hybrid roles, experts say its important to set clear expectations about when and how long employees need to be onsite. A hybrid schedule that works well for project-based work blends long stretches of remote work with onsite visits as needed for critical project phases, like Kickoff or Go Live.

Organizations with some onsite requirements should think about the practical implications for employees. For example, how far away can the employee live from your office or headquarters? Who will pay expenses to and from the office if a flight or long drive or overnight stay is required?

If you designate a role as fully remote, don’t equivocate or guilt employees for working from home. Employees with 100% remote roles shouldn’t feel disadvantaged because they can’t or don’t come to an office.

Be transparent while hiring

When posting to job boards, highlight whether a role requires remote, hybrid, or onsite work. At the interview stage, get specific about your expectations. If a position is advertised as “20% onsite” then explain to candidates exactly what that means in terms of when and how long they are expected to be in the office. If a position is designated fully-remote, clarify whether that’s a permanent status or temporary.

If the degree of flexibility required by a candidate becomes a point of negotiation during the hiring process, keep your commitments formal and written.

Help remote employees thrive

Remote work can be isolating, and new hires that “won’t admit when they don’t know something, or rarely ask for help,” are doomed to fail, says Kristen Sapato, Epic Training Manager for Optum.

Set up for success by investing in online collaboration tools, like Slack and ZOOM, and have expense policies that reimburse for home office needs and that pay for travel, so out-of-state employees can get some in-person facetime with their managers. Ongoing group chats, virtual town halls with the CIO, and even small touches, like sending welcome gifts to offsite employees, can go a long way in building camaraderie.

Managers used to giving in-person feedback will need to adapt as well. Experts say more frequent and regular virtual check-ins are key, especially with new remote hires or those who aren’t performing as expected.