'Work is not a place that employees go': How hospital CIOs build resilient remote teams and avoid burnout

Harris Health System Senior Vice President and CIO David Chou outlined how healthcare CIOs can combat technology team burnout in a recent blog post.

During the pandemic, hospital IT teams rapidly transitioned to remote work, telehealth and other remote monitoring services. IT departments are also responsible for keeping up systems at hospitals and ensuring the organization has the capabilities and data needed to treat patients and respond to the pandemic. The increased workload and stress of the pandemic can induce burnout among even the most committed team members.

To combat burnout, Mr. Chou recommends supporting remote work as much as possible. "Work is not a place that employees go to, but rather an output of their effort to advance the organization," he said. "This has to be the new motto for CIOs — and it should be a motto that leaders can use to promote work-life balance."

Harris Health System has allowed IT team members to work remotely for the past two years and has now extended full time or hybrid telecommuting throughout the organization.

He also highlighted expertise from Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health Division CIO Anna Turman on recognizing team members regularly. Ms. Turman mailed personalized cards and a gift to 30 employees and managers to boost morale as individuals on the IT team regularly put in 60-hour weeks. Mr. Chou also recommended replicating "watercooler chats" either through platforms like Microsoft Teams or Facebook at Work to leave time for unstructured connections and relationship building.

Mr. Chou also suggested shorter video meetings to promote "thinking time" and breaks. He recommended scheduling meetings outside of the usual 30- to 60-minute time frame.

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