How 1 health plan designed an office around hybrid work

Some insurers have asked their workers to come back to the office five days a week. Others have committed to permanent remote work. Capital District Physicians Health Plan hopes to land somewhere in the middle. 

Katie Decker, chief human resources officer for the Albany, N.Y.-based health plan, told Becker's that Capital District Physicians chose not to take a specific stance on in-office versus at-home work, instead allowing individual teams to develop their own work plans. 

The functions of IT, sales, finance and call center teams are different, Ms. Decker said, and require different approaches. 

"It's such different types of work that the company is not going to come out with a stance, other than we are embracing hybrid; we think that's the correct model," she said. "We wanted departments to think about how they are working now and how they are collaborating best and to come up with a plan at that level." 

CDPHP, a nonprofit health plan, recently moved to a new headquarters in Latham, N.Y. It is co-located with Community Care Physicians, a medical practice. One location houses CDPHP customer service and Community Care Physicians primary care, surgical and specialty sites. 

"For many of our employees to be walking to work next to a current or prospective member, to be able to hold the door for them, to be able to give them a warm, friendly hello has been incredibly impactful," Ms. Decker said. 

The space is smaller than the previous office Capital District Physicians occupied, so the design had to be carefully considered to encourage collaborative work. 

"It was designed for collaboration, not necessarily for heads-down work," Ms. Decker said. "If you need to do that, there are spaces for heads-down work, but it was really designed for us to be here together." 

Some insurers have asked their employees to come back to the office full time. BCBS Louisiana said it will require its employees to be in office five days a week beginning in September. Cigna also has asked most of its employees to work onsite. 

BCBS Tennessee took the opposite approach, committing to permanent remote work. 

While most companies started remote work as a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech industry piloted hybrid work models before the pandemic, Ms. Decker said. 

"They had done this already and realized hybrid is where it's at," she said. "One extreme or the other — it really doesn't fit." 

The more difficult it is to fill roles, the more companies should consider hybrid work options or allowing some roles to work from home full-time, Ms. Decker added. 

"Employees are in the driver's seat, make no bones about it," she said. "So we as employers have to make sure we're listening and we're contemplating what that new balance is."  

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