Remote work is on the rise. As a Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs report notes, the number of people telecommuting in the United States increased 159% between 2005 and 2017. Between 2016 and 2017, remote work increased nearly 8%. Over the last five years, remote growth increased 44%. In fact, healthcare reportedly is the industry with the highest percentage of remote workers (15%). There's every reason to believe that the number of people working remotely will only continue to rise in the coming years.
While many ASC positions require staff to work at the facility, the business office is one area potentially ripe for telecommuting. The ability to effectively complete business office tasks remotely is one of the reasons why surgery centers can outsource their revenue cycle services.
Permitting business office staff to work remotely can deliver significant benefits to ASCs and their employees. The following are six reasons ASCs should consider using remote business office staff.
1. Expanded talent pool
The unemployment rate is at historic lows, which can create significant hiring challenges. ASCs looking to fill on-site positions must either find staff in and around their market or convince someone to relocate for a job. When ASCs consider employing remote workers, the pool of candidates expands significantly, essentially growing from a single market to many markets.
2. Reduced hiring costs
Even if surgery centers can find qualified candidates willing to work at a facility, competition for them is likely to be quite high. To recruit a strong candidate may require an ASC to pay an inflated salary, offer greater benefits, provide a signing bonus, and possibly cover relocation fees. Surgery centers that hire remote staff should be able to avoid paying inflated rates.
In fact, some employees may even consider taking less money if permitted to work remotely. As Small Business Trends notes, an Owl Labs report showed that 34% of employees are willing to take a 5% pay cut, 24% are willing to take a 10% cut, and 20% are willing to take a pay cut of more than 10% to work remotely. One of the reasons why remote staff may consider lower pay is the savings associated with an eliminated commute (e.g., gas, tolls, more frequent car repairs). Remote staff may also save on daycare and pet sitting — expenses that can quickly add up over time.
3. Increased productivity
Virtual staff are often more productive than in-house employees. One survey showed that 77% of employees who worked remotely reported greater productivity. In addition, 30% said they accomplished more in less time, and 24% accomplished more in the same amount of time. About one in four indicated a willingness to work longer hours than they normally would on-site to complete more work.
4. Repurposing of office space
When ASCs move from on-site to virtual business office staff, they free up office space in the process. Depending on the layout of the facility, surgery centers may be able to reduce the amount of space they rent or convert the available space, perhaps into more patient care areas. If a decision is made to employ remote business office staff before building a new ASC, developers can take this into consideration in design plans.
5. Lower overhead costs
The savings associated with remote employees can be significant. Depending upon the arrangement an ASC makes with telecommuting staff, it may be able to save on equipment (e.g., computer), office supplies, electricity, utilities, insurance, and more.
6. Better retention
Consider the reasons why on-site staff choose to leave their position. These include reduced commute, changes in personal life (e.g., significant other, geographic move), lack of autonomy, work-life balance, and salary. These are often non-factors for remote employees. They have no commute. A change in personal life — even one requiring a relocation — may not interfere with the work. Unless there is a specific time when remote employees must work, they may have greater flexibility in their schedule to complete their assignments. The elimination of a commute and increased schedule flexibility can help people achieve a better work-life balance.
In terms of salary, remote staff may be willing to accept lower pay (as discussed) because of the conveniences and cost savings associated with telecommuting. An ASC may also feel more comfortable paying a remote employee more because of the cost savings associated with the elimination of an on-site position.
ASCA Webinar on ASC Remote Business Office Staff
Interested in hiring remote business office staff for your ASC? Then don't miss my upcoming Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) webinar on "Managing, Measuring and Motivating Remote Business Office Staff," scheduled for February 25, 2020, at 1:00 pm ET. Nursing contact hours and Administrator Education Unit credit are available. To learn more and register, visit the ASCA website. Note: This program and its recording are included with ASCA's 2020 All-Access Pass.