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Phia Group Media


Good to Be Back

By: Ron E. Peck, Esq.

Regardless of whether you are an employer, or service employers, or both (like The Phia Group), one question keeps popping up.  As restrictions are lifted in each State, people find themselves emerging from their basement offices.  This, then, begs the question amongst employers: “When do we have employees return to the office?  What can we do to incentivize them to return to the office?  Can we force them to return to the office?”

 

The other day, my five-year-old son was enjoying some mini-muffins, sitting comfortably on the kitchen floor.  As crumbs rained down from his mouth and sprinkled around him upon the floor, I asked him to please eat at the kitchen table.  He asked why.  Of course my knee-jerk reaction was to respond that I, as his father, am not required to provide a reason… however… I opted instead to explain etiquette as well as how and why his behavior at best would be more difficult to clean, and at worst would attract bugs into the home.  After some more discourse, he opted to finish his snack at the table. 

 

The morale of the story?  As the legendary Jeff Goldblum’s fan favorite character – Dr. Ian Malcolm – said in the legendary film, Jurassic Park, “[they] … were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”  Here too, employers are so preoccupied with “how” they will get staff back in the office, they are ill prepared to explain “why” people should be in the office in the first place.  For generations, the only way to effectively collaborate was in person.  With the advent of technology, especially the mass adoption of “virtual” meeting software since the start of the pandemic, we are more or less able to do remotely what we once did in person.  So – ask yourself – why?  Why do we need to be in the office?

 

I am back in the office about half the week presently, with a goal to be back full time soon.  Why?  This very afternoon, during a “virtual” staff meeting, I got up from my desk – and with my mobile phone dialed into the call – took a walk around the office.  For those other staff members that were in the office, tracking my movements live on camera, and excitedly leaping from their seats as they watched me approach them, was fun and exciting.  Such a silly little thing.  Likewise, after the meeting, a few of us – without any forethought or planning – found ourselves in the same common area.  We all began chatting about random happenings that have nothing to do with the company, and certainly wouldn’t warrant a scheduled video conference.  Yet – we all returned to our desks feeling a renewed sense of energy and camaraderie. 

 

Focus on that message first.  Focus on the “why.”  This lesson is true for healthcare as well.  We are so preoccupied with things like transparency, co-pays, deductibles, and any other number of schemes meant to control patient behavior, that we have failed to stop and ask ourselves, “Have we actually explained why people should care about the price of their care?  Do they know that if and when their plan pays more, that increased cost will trickle back to them – the participants – in the form of higher premiums or contributions?  Do people understand how medical pricing works?  Chargemasters, random pricing, network discounts, etc?” 

 

I may be naïve, but my son, Dr. Malcolm, and my own return to the office have shown me – the why matters as much (if not more) than the how.