Written by Mike Shunney, CEO of Brown & Brown Absence Services Group
It has been three years since COVID-19 first turned our world upside down, causing us all to pivot the ways we approached everything from grocery shopping to going to work. As I reflect on all the changes that have occurred during this time, I am struck by one of the positive things to have come out of the pandemic: an increased emphasis on what it means to create a positive working environment for our teammates.
When we first shifted to fully remote work, we were confronted with the isolation and loneliness that came with being removed from the group gatherings we had always taken for granted. After months of sending care packages to our teammates and hosting virtual trivia nights on Zoom with no safe time to return to our offices in sight, we began to think more deeply about what truly makes a group of people into a community.
When the pandemic temporarily forced us out of our office buildings, it also opened us up to hiring teammates from across the country. Proximity to an office no longer limited our search for the best talent – and our team has grown both in number and caliber as a result. Initially, the teammate experience was the same for everyone working from home, but as we began to return to public settings and in-person work, we were confronted with the reality that a significant percentage of our teammates did not have an office to return to. Thus, our leadership team began a very intentional process of thinking differently about cultivating a culture of community, care, and support that encourages teammates to form connections and hone each other’s skills, regardless of their physical proximity to one another.
We’ve learned a great deal through this process, and while we are certainly still navigating the balance of remote, hybrid, and in-person work, we can see many ways in which the hybrid work model has benefitted our Company and our teammates. Offering more flexibility has allowed us to retain talent amid shifting personal and family needs while also pushing us to get more creative about what it really means to create an inclusive work environment. These efforts have had a positive ripple effect in several areas of our business, including our approach to our Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging initiative. As we continue to navigate the post-pandemic workplace, we are looking forward to making several key investments, including monthly in-person and virtual events assuring that all our teammates have equal opportunities to connect and engage.
While in-person contact certainly does nurture community development, it goes much deeper than that. I’m proud to say that the Brown & Brown Absence Services Group community is comprised of the people with whom you’ve established both personal and professional rapport; those you can trust and rely upon; those who both support and challenge you; and, as important as any of it, those with whom you can share a laugh.