A Return to Work: Let’s talk about putting people first
A return to work. It’s a phrase we’re hearing a lot these days. With new vaccines being approved and showing promising results, we might just be on our way back to some sense of normalcy. I’m not counting my proverbial chickens before they hatch, but I’m hopeful, and the companies we work with seem to echo that positivity.
Eventually, when the obstacles that arose during the past year subside, when those potential threats to our health and wellness become manageable and part of our everyday expectations, we will have to decide what a return to work will actually look like.
Ideally, a return to work would be just that; every American who lost their job due to crippling economic conditions would go back, resume the career trajectories that were thrown off course or delayed, contribute, be productive, be granted promotion and achieve that healthy work-life balance.
Utilizing video conferencing, time management software and other remote technologies, some companies and professionals have managed to remain partially productive or, in some cases, exceed what they could accomplish in a traditional office environment.
One thing many businesses have taken away from extraordinary conditions is newfound flexibility. Sometimes, we are forced to do things differently. We either rise to the occasion, learn from our circumstances or become irrelevant when others take the initiative, when others adapt or innovate. A return to work will mean different things to every individual.
It really comes down to finding the best way to do what you do best. If your teams are traditional office dwellers—if they do their best work in close proximity to their colleagues, if they enjoy and thrive within the community of the traditional office environment and benefit from that culture—do that.
If your teams are remote nomads—enjoying the space and flexibility associated with the digital office space, spending more time with their families and on vital projects and less time on the commute—do that instead.
Whatever a return to work looks like for you, remember it is always about the people, about the teams that carry your company forward, those who put in the time and truly care about the work, who want you and their teammates to succeed and exceed expectations.
I recently came across an article about what a return to work was not going to look like. One of these subtopics stated that companies were not going to be looking for new talent, that they would look at their companies and automate whatever they could, shifting the talent at their disposal to more utilitarian roles.
I understand wanting to conserve resources, doing the most with the money you have, but this concept of trying to replace a large part of your employees with process automation, and then shift more responsibilities to your existing teams—it doesn’t sit well with me.
A business, company, firm, organization, entity—whatever we want to call it—is a community, and the perspectives offered by that collection of diverse backgrounds and talents is an invaluable resource. A return to work that strips you of those viewpoints and that knowledge is akin to cutting off your own arm because you didn’t happen to be using it at that moment. You don’t know what potential breakthroughs or success stories you might miss out on by not strengthening and repopulating your workforce.
Insurance is first and foremost about people, about assessing risks to people and property and planning accordingly. It is an industry that provides for its customers during the worst of times, during periods that need the consideration only another person can provide.
Technology should only ever be a tool for talented professionals, and especially in this industry, it should never replace them. A return to work needs to be about people and profit.
At The James Allen Companies, we provide the insurance industry with talented professionals, leaders who will set the course into tomorrow.