Embracing flexibility is the key to a more productive workforce in the post-pandemic world. That was the word from Stephanie Berger, Centered Insurance Solutions, who shared the lessons her benefits brokerage firm learned after more than a year of remote working. Berger spoke at Monday’s National Association of Health Underwriter virtual annual convention.
Berger said remote work taught her and her staff a lot of things, and listed them as follows:
- Created flexibility.
- Increased use of technology.
- 9 to 5 is obsolete.
- More grace. Berger said the office environment now became an environment “where it was OK to get on a Zoom call and not look 100% or have a dog barking in the background, no one was judging. Everyone was in it together and everyone doing the same thing. People became more comfortable working with each other.”
Berger’s agency eventually adapted a hybrid work model because her employees found they missed working from the office but still wanted some flexibility.
“The isolation of the pandemic is real, and it did affect people,” she said. “Every Monday, everyone is in the office. We have a staff meeting, and we have lunch together. Then we split. Some employees come in Tuesdays and Thursdays, others come in on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
She quoted the seven hybrid trends for 2021 and beyond from the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index.
- Flexible work is here to stay.
- Leaders are out of touch with employees.
- High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce.
- Generation Z is most at risk, feel isolated and need reenergized.
- Shrinking networks are endangering innovation.
- Authenticity will spur productivity and well-being.
- Talent is everywhere.
“Be flexible,” she said. “The way we do things today might not work three months from now.”
In transitioning to a hybrid workplace, employers must answer the following questions:
- What does your office space look like?
- How will you bridge the gap between physical space and a virtual world?
- How will you balance flexibility and productivity?
- What changes will you face with maintaining an energetic environment?
- How will you create team building activities with intention?
The workforce will never be the same, Berger said. “Employers must be flexible. Employees must practice self-care. And positive communication between employers and employees is vital to an efficient and happy workplace."
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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