This Week Health

Is work from home working? Malcolm Gladwell doesn't think so, today we explore his thinking on the topic.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/05/malcolm-gladwell-slams-working-from-home/

Transcript

Today in health, it. I'm back from vacation and just checking up on some news today. I look at Malcolm Gladwell's comments on work from home. Wow. My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week health. I set up channels dedicated to keeping health it staff, current and engaged.

We want to thank our show sponsors who are investing in developing the next generation of health leaders, Gordian dynamics, Quill health tau site nuance, Canon medical, and current health. Check them out at this week. Health. Dot com slash today. All right. So Malcolm Gladwell slams working from home.

Let's just go straight to the article, give you some of the background. I'll give you my, so what at the end? On this, , let's see, author Malcolm Gladwell thinks that remote work is hurting society. And that a recession would likely drive employees who are sitting in their pajamas back into the office.

The best-selling author of blink and the tipping point. Grew emotional and shed tears. As he told the diary of a CEO podcast, hosted by Steven Bartlett. That people need to come to the office in order to regain a sense of belonging. And feel a part of something larger than themselves. It's very hard to feel.

, necessary when you're physically disconnected. The Canadian writer said as we face the battle, That all organizations are facing now in getting people back into the office. It's really hard to explain the core psychological truth. Which is, we want you to have a feeling of belonging and to feel necessary.

And we want to join our team Gladwell continued. And if you're not here, it's really hard to do that. It's not in your best interest to work at home. He said, I know it's a hassle to come into the office, but if you're just sitting in your pajamas in your bedroom, Is that a work-life that you want to live?

Don't you want to feel like you're a part of something Gladwell added in. He goes on to say I'm really getting very frustrated with the inability of people in positions of leadership to explain this effectively to their employees.

If we don't feel like we're a part of something important, what's the point he said, If it's just a paycheck, then it's like, what have you reduced your life to? Gladwell's message would likely be well received by New York mayor, Eric Adams and San Francisco mayor London breed the leaders of two cities that were hardest hit by the pandemic. Both cities have urged workers in finance, tech, and other sectors.

To return to the office in order to support small businesses. That rely on foot traffic shake shack. The fast food chain told investors that if sales, Ms. Wall street forecast, because of the rate. At which office workers are returning to their cubicles has slowed. Casty systems, the security company released a report, which found that the office occupancy in 10 us Metro areas averages just 44% in the week ending July 27th.

You also have vacations, but regardless 44% is low number. In San Francisco and estimated one third of the city's workforce is remote city. Officials said that remote work costs. It 400 million in tax revenues last year. New York is second to San Francisco. When it comes to office vacancy rates earlier this year, Casti systems found that new York's office occupancy rates to.

At just 36%. Tech companies and financial giants are hesitant to force employees back into the office for fear that workers could quit their jobs. In favor of others that offer more flexibility. Wow. Okay. So that's the story. He said a lot there. This was last week sometime. While I was out on vacation. August 5th is a story I'm reading.

It may probably was on a podcast a couple of days before that maybe you had just the day before that. So, wow. All right, where do I want to go with this without getting into too much trouble?

There there's a lot of different ways to look at this, right? There's their perspective of the employees and the staff. There's their perspective of the people who didn't ever really enjoy. Going to the office or struggled in an office environment. You have workers that struggled to get to the office itself. You have.

Workers that struggle to get in and out of the office. You have disabled workers. , you have people who struggle to function. , from a focus standpoint in that kind of environment. And, , so you're going to have a significant backlash one way or the other, no matter which side I come down on this argument, you're going to get a backlash.

, and I'm aware of that, right? And then you have leaders. , like, , Jamie diamond, we've talked about this. On the show before and Jamie diamond is in favor of bringing workers back into the office. He said, there's nothing like , being trained at the elbow with a seasoned.

, individual that, , you just, you just miss out on being out of your house. , Little different, , perspective there from Jamie diamond. He also does, does talk somewhat about the. , New York shop owners who rely on the larger organization, springing their employees into New York city so that the economy there can thrive. And those small business owners.

, can thrive at well. , I'm not going to approach it from that perspective. Is it good for the economy is bad for the economy. , it's a change in the economy for. For sure. And we've had changes in work dynamics over the years. It used to be primarily a rural based economy. And then it went to an urban based economy.

, suburban sprawl happened and people moved out into the suburbs. And you had hospitals have to be built out there and all sorts of other things. This is just another change people. Generally get a little angsty around change. And, , it requires some different thinking. , but it also requires you to determine, is this the longterm trend? Is this going to stick?

And the answer to that is it's likely going to stick. Some percentage of this is likely going to stick and it's going to be a higher percentage. Then most people are comfortable with, it's going to change how we look at commercial real estate. It's going to change. , real estate values in remote locations and those kinds of things.

And it's going to change work habits. It's going to change family dynamics. It's going to change a lot of things. , it's going to change the rental. Market's going to change. How we look at homes and what rooms are necessary in homes. So there's an awful lot of change that comes about as a result of a.

A major demographic shift like this, like working from home. The question really at hand, because this is, , that the intersection of healthcare and it that's what this question is really about. Most healthcare is delivered. Physically. Right. So you're still going onto the campus to deliver care.

A majority of your staff is still going to, eh, For a health system is still going onsite to deliver care. You have an equity challenge. If a majority of the staff has to be there and the it staff isn't there, I will agree that most it staff jobs can be done remotely. There's a handful that cannot there's desk side support.

There are roles. There are some training roles that potentially have to be done. , in person as well. There's there's a host of them. There's physical roles that still exist within it. So you're looking at maybe 20, 25% of your staff that is going to have to go onsite. So we're really talking about 75% of the it staff, which is a much smaller percent of the total staff within a health system and saying, do we give this group the flexibility to work from home?

, I'm not going to try to address, you know, do you have supply chain work from home? Do you have the finance and administration work from home? And all those kinds of things, but do you have your healthcare? It staff, the 75% that can work from home, continue to work from home. And the answer to that becomes depends.

It depends on your health system. Depends on the culture. Depends on the availability of workers. Depends on the skill set of the workers you're talking about working remotely. And again, the scarcity of those workers and replacing those workers. It depends on the specific market dynamics that exist within your markets.

You might be in one of those, , city markets, in which case you can attract some of those employees that are being forced to go back into the office away from some of your competitors. And lower them in and really upgrade your staff. That could be a strategy that you employ. , clearly there's some things you have to get through, but we've gotten through a lot of these things, you know, how do you build culture?

The main point he's making here is it's hard for people to feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. If they're at home in their pajamas, that's pretty. Bad way of saying that. But, , The reality is we've gotten good at this. We bring, we have situations where we bring people in a certain amount of time. We have offsites, we have retreats.

, we have, , collaboration sessions. We have come up with creative ways to really see inside of people's homes and their lives and to bring them in and connect them to the mission of the organization. And. To get them, get to know them a little bit better, see their dog on a zoom call and that kind of stuff.

, I'm not boiling this whole thing down to that. Kind of thing. Oh, this is great. We get to see people's dogs. But I am saying that we can create a sense of belonging, a sense of culture. , without bringing people into the office, I think we've gotten better at that.

That doesn't necessarily mean that I would do this. If I were a CIO, I would look at all the different factors. I would be doing pulse surveys. I'd be talking to my employees.

I would be talking to my peers within the health system to determine, is there a downside to my workers being remote? , is there a benefit to bringing them in and is there alternatives?

We now have a lot of options at our disposal, right? We never could have you rewind three or four years ago. We never could've said, Hey, we're going to send the entire it staff. Home and they're going to work remote. But today that is an option. In many cases, that is an option. We're going to send 75% of the it staff home.

They're going to work remote. That's an option. The other option is we're going to bring people all, everyone back into the office and everybody's going to work in the office. But now look at the range we have. And we could do anything from all the way in either direction to, , some sort of hybrid model. ,

we could be as creative as our policies will allow us. And our culture will allow us to be. So I think there's a lot of benefits to where we've gotten to.

As I look at what Malcolm Gladwell's saying here. I disagree with the majority of what he's saying. , I mean, what'd he say essentially saying, is this bad psychologically it's bad. , long-term for organizations. It's bad for the economy. , I think he's right in saying that it's important for people to feel like they're a part of something bigger. If we're not effective at doing that, then I think you have to bring your employees back into the office.

You either have to be good at helping people feel like, and know that they're a part of something bigger and part of a culture, or you have to bring them back into the office. I mean, those are really your two choices. Because if people don't feel like they're a part of something bigger, if it is just a paycheck, he said he has his paycheck comment in here.

And I think it's probably , his strongest point. And, , you know, if we don't feel like we're a part of something important, what's the point. If it's just a paycheck. Then it's like, what have we reduced your life to?

And that's the phrase. I think I agree with him the most on. Which is if your employees get to the point where it's just about a paycheck, And, , they can really do that work for anybody. , they will continually look for somebody else. Who's going to give them that connection. That a sense of purpose or the flexibility that they're looking for?

, because if, again, if it's just about a paycheck, it's just about money. , somebody else is going to be able to offer that you have to be able to offer more than just a paycheck

In order to attract the best staff. And to really set your system up for success.

All right. That's all for today. It's good to be back. Actually, I forgot to say this early on, we have a webinar this Thursday. About. Interestingly enough. , recruiting, retaining and optimizing your healthcare. It security staff. , we've looked at some studies, which says that your it security staff, isn't happy.

And we're going to talk about how to address that. And we're also going to look at a couple of other things around it. Security. , automation being one of those topics. So if you can make it this Thursday, one o'clock Eastern time, just hit our website. It's up there on the top right-hand corner. We actually have two webinars. We have one this Thursday, when the following Thursday.

The one, the following Thursday is on don't pay the ransom, which should be a good one. You can sign up for both of them on our website. All right. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week, health.com or wherever you listen to podcasts, apple, Google, overcast, Spotify, Stitcher.

You get the picture. We are everywhere. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are investing in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Gordian dynamics, Quill health house site nuance, Canon medical, and 📍 current health. Check them out at this week. health.com/today. Thanks for listening that's all for now

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