Heath bosses weigh up work from home advantage

Working from home could become the new norm for many staff. File photo.

Hundreds of health staff could work from home as bosses look at boosting productivity levels after lockdown

Members of Nelson Marlborough Health Board are looking at ways people could work from home on a permanent basis.

During lockdown productivity levels increased, with feedback from staff saying they enjoyed a better work life balance.

Speaking at the latest board meeting in May via Zoom, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board Chief Executive Peter Bramley says working from home had many positives.

“By not commuting daily it saves congestion, money, time and the environment.

“It also minimises the circulation and exposure to various infectious diseases, potentially reducing the need to take time off sick.

“Staff have reported better work life balance, and many would like the consideration of a flexible model between work and home going forward.”

The move would only apply to staff not needed for face to face work.

Peter says the challenges brought about by COVID-19 saw many services make the switch to online.

Now is the ideal time to see what changes might work well in the long term, he says.

“There is huge support to keep doing the right thing by our community and not to slip back to the old inefficient ways.”

Figures from Nelson Marlborough Health IT team show prior to COVID19 about 330 staff would remotely connect during a two-week period.

But between 25 March and 8 April that number more than trebled to 1080 staff.

People and Capabilities general manager Trish Casey says encouraging flexible working arrangements is on the cards.

“NMH is interested in continuing to promote flexible working arrangements for staff, especially as we continue to incorporate greater physical distancing into our ways of working for the future.

“We are currently reviewing many aspects of how we work, like when we travel to meetings or conferences versus connecting via technology, as we anticipate a need to maintain a cautious position with regards to bringing people together in groups,” she says.

“If an employee wants to continue remote working and this can be done effectively, managers will be looking to facilitate this.”

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