Advocate Aurora Health will make remote work permanent for 12,000 employees

Advocate Aurora Health's Milwaukee headquarters in Walker's Point.

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 12:49 pm

About 12,000 non-clinical Advocate Aurora Health employees who have been working remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to do so permanently, the health system said Friday.

The shift will mean those employees will “no longer have dedicated workspaces” such as cubicles or offices at its corporate facilities in Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Illinois, Advocate Aurora chief human resources officer Kevin Brady said in an emailed statement.

Affected departments will include finance and accounting, consumer experience and public affairs, strategy and business development, government relations, administration and more. Advocate Aurora has 75,000 employees across Wisconsin and Illinois.

Brady said the remote-work arrangements necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have proven that its employees can work remotely effectively and that many enjoy doing so.

Under the new work model, which Advocate Aurora is calling “WorkForward,” employees will be able to choose to work from home, at a coffee shop or other locations, Brady said.

“For some departments, remote-first may come to mean monthly team meetings in the office, once-a-week collaboration sessions or a trip to an outside-the-box location that inspires the team,” Brady said.

Employers across the region are evaluating their work policies and office needs as public health measures are beginning to loosen. Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin recently announced it is selling its Greendale headquarters building as it makes a permanent switch to a hybrid work model, with employees working either onsite, remotely or a combination of the two. ManpowerGroup expects to free up a floor of its four-floor headquarters office building in downtown Milwaukee as it continues to offer more flexibility to employees, including shifting work hours and schedules. Meanwhile, leaders of Marcus Corp., which is also headquartered downtown, have come out saying the company will take an “office-first” approach moving forward.

With the shift, Brady said Advocate Aurora will “regularly evaluate” its real estate needs. The system recently vacated non-headquarters office space when its lease ended at the end of 2020, including the ACL billing office in West Allis, the Aurora Family Services office in Milwaukee, the Bluemound Business Center in Waukesha, and the Kensington Support Center and Philanthropy Office in Oak Brook, Illinois, according to a spokesperson.

The health system recently donated the Aurora Family Services building to Bethesda Lutheran Communities Inc., which plans to demolish the facility and build new housing for adults with intellectual and development disabilities.

Aurora’s Family Services staff now operate out of Aurora Sinai Medical Center.

“These decisions are not an indication of downsizing teams, but rather of our ability to reorganize to create a more engaging, collaborative and energizing work environment while offering team members the flexibility they value,” Brady said.

Meanwhile, Brady said the health system is reconfiguring its remaining facilities to create more “innovative and productive” work areas that employees could reserve for meetings or temporary work space.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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