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How to Manage Virtual Employees at Your PT Practice

Having employees work from home? Check out this article for tips on maanging employees that are working remotely.

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Work from home?

The work from home (WFH) economy is booming right now, and physical therapists and PT practice staff are right in the mix. With thousands of employees going virtual, practices across the nation have adjusted foundational policies and procedures to accommodate this employment shift.Whether working from home is permanent or not, physical therapists and support staff still have an essential job to do. As staff gets settled into their WFH roles, practice owners are asking, "how should I manage my employees outside of the office?" Physical therapy demand is still robust, and patients expect seamless rehabilitation even with the pandemic in the picture. The only way to provide engaging and meaningful rehabilitation is to approach each patient on a unified front, making managing virtual employees at your PT practice essential.This article will explore the most impactful ways to engage with patients and staff so that physical therapists and staff can operate at their highest level.

Engage the Entire Staff in Virtual Activities

Strong internal communications are imperative when managing employees on the digital front. One of the best ways practice owners can engage with virtual staff is by including them in virtual meetings, hangouts, and coaching sessions. By using a video platform such as Zoom, physical therapists and staff can mingle, shape, and solidify camaraderie amongst employees.1. Virtual MeetingsEven if you weren't big on meetings before the virtual surge, keeping everyone updated is needed now more than ever. By using video and audio collaboration software, everyone can contribute and share information. While many physical therapists are currently in the office, billers and schedulers working from home can leverage this technology to contribute.2. Hangouts/Team Building ExercisesPractice owners can use these 57 remote team-building exercises to promote healthy conversation and have a little fun. The office might feel barren as of late, digital work can get lonely, and the channels of dialogue are stressed. By employing digital hangouts, physical therapists and staff will become more motivated and apt to problem-solving.3. CoachingEmployees thrive when they receive regular feedback. This feedback is channeled through everyday nudges, praises, and one-on-one meetings. The work from home environment changed the way practice owners coach and mentor staff. Scheduling virtual coaching sessions can regain some of this interaction and provide transparent objectives for employees—driving motivation and participation.

Advise and Support Employees in Home Office Set-up

If you have staff working remotely, they'll need to set up an office inside of their home. The mix of professional and personal can be daunting at first, as kids and animals run amuck through the house. The home office's importance is taken for granted until you realize the sun comes through the window—blinding you for 20 minutes—and the privacy screen you installed falls over on the desk. Assisting employees in mastering a more productive home office setup is essential to their success.Reach out and make sure they have all the tools and tips they need, even if they've already been working from home. Employees might not realize it, but untuned setups can lead to a lack of motivation, poor performance, and even unhappiness on the job.

Implement and Measure Goals and Productivity

It's easy to feel disconnected when transported to an environment outside of the regular office. A surefire way physical therapist practice owners can manage their virtual employees is to set goals and measure them over time. While this is standard practice at the office, it's easy to relax on productivity measurement when staff members aren't physically present.As many employees have settled into their work from home lifestyle, it's time to set goals, measure performance, and supply feedback.

Simplify Internal Procedures and Processes

Most physical therapists (and many staff) are still working in the office, but what about everybody else? The administration team is leading the charge in the work from home environment. Practice owners can make this transition easier using robust software to simplify internal procedures and processes.These include enhancements in the communication, billing, and scheduling sectors of physical therapy. Practice owners can track performance and manage their employees' productivity by integrating all procedures under an all-in-one software solution.

Keep an Open-Door Policy for Feedback

The pandemic has disrupted the entire physical therapy industry. Practice owners are now managing physical and virtual employees and patients. Where most operations took place in the office, now they're expected to coordinate telehealth operations, manage in-person PTs and staff, establish virtual activities, and take care of patients in person. There is plenty of room for error, and nobody will get it perfect from day one.These challenges are the reason to keep an open-door policy for feedback. Hearing insight from each member of the operation is invaluable, especially when charting unfamiliar territory. When employees feel seen and heard, they will respond with productivity. This feedback isn't limited to employees either. Patients are dealing with different policy changes, technology systems, and apprehensive about visiting a PT in the first place. Keeping the channels of feedback wide open allows practice owners to solicit both parties' input, ensuring success on all fronts.

Ensure Employees Working From Home Feel Connected

When communicating with patients, you must strike the right balance. Physical therapists who send out thaThe lack of human connection can take its toll on the work from home employee. In the past, physical therapy allowed plenty of face-to-face discussions, patient interaction, and camaraderie amongst staff. When all of this is suddenly taken away and magnified by the sands of time, employees can understandably feel down. Physical therapists should use communication channels where participation is available for everyone. This can be accomplished by using software with chat capabilities, email, messaging, or video conferencing instead of in-person interaction.As a practice owner, implementing technology to get ahead of these problems will boost morale. The employees working from home will appreciate the effort of inclusion and become integrated into the decision-making process. Overall productivity and job satisfaction should increase, and when things get back to normal, they'll remember management's efforts.ree emails, auto-generated texts, Facebook ads, and a flyer underneath the car windshield wiper on the same day aren’t driving patient engagement—they’re eliminating it. Patients are already bombarded with ads all day from popular companies trying to sell them shoes, vacations, and other commodities. Rehabilitation isn’t a commodity, but if patients lump PTs into the same categories prying for their attention, the industry as a whole is in big trouble.On the other hand, communication is monumental to the success of a practice. If you haven’t established a presence on digital platforms, optimized the patient experience through feedback surveys, and advertised locally, you could be missing out. Furthermore, integrating educational content throughout these platforms will push engagement to the next level where patients are excited to be part of the process.So, when going into the New Year, subscribe to the usual suspects of great communication strategy. But be mindful of scaling reasonably, don’t overdo it.

Keeping an Eye on Security and Other WFH Policies

In the era of work from home (WFH), security is paramount in the digital space. Telehealth is a fresh concept for PTs, OTs, SLPs and other staff, so security might not be at the forefront of their mind. When setting up a home office, be mindful of security basics, namely handling patient data. HIPAA compliance extends past the office's boundaries—we must fulfill our obligation to protect patient information.Here are a few ways to ensure a secure WFH environment:

  • Enable WiFi security and choose a strong password
  • Engage in private telehealth visits
  • Keep passwords out of harm's reach
  • Be mindful of printed information
  • Use antivirus software

Keeping an Eye on Security and Other WFH Policies

Managing virtual employees is more straightforward when physical therapists and staff integrate the digital world into their practice. After the most productive home office is set up, turn your sights to engage with all employees across platforms. Include patients in the feedback process and take criticism as constructive to improve the structure of your clinic.Practice owners can significantly benefit from software such as MWTherapy's all-in-one solution. This powerful software includes many features to make employee and patient management a breeze, including streamlined communication, practice management tracking, and easy-to-use billing resolutions.

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