Our biggest limitation to flexible scheduling is that we often need to communicate with patients by phone which can only occur during certain times of the day. We have invested heavily in our technology to reduce our dependence on phone outreach and allow patients to provide the information we need electronically, at their convenience. This continues to increase our ability to expand those “windows of opportunity” for work schedules.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Lori Lipocky.

Lori Lipocky, President and General Manager, Complex Claims at Aspirion, has over 13 years of experience in working with medical providers on reimbursement issues and 16 years of Property and Casualty Insurance experience as a Casualty Claims Manager for Allstate. As President of Aspirion Health Resources, she is responsible for the overall success of the operation. She uses her expertise to lead the investigating and processing of complex claims such as motor vehicle accident, premises liability, workers compensation, Veterans Affairs, and Tricare claims for hundreds of hospital and physician groups across the United States.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

When I was promoted to my first management position with Allstate, I was fortunate to work for someone that I still consider today to be one of the best mentors that I have had in my career. He told me that he had put me in the position to make decisions and that if it turned out to be the wrong one, he would be there to help me fix it. That gave me the confidence early on to try innovative ways to lead my team and manage objectives. This approach has continued to serve me well throughout my career.

The second experience relates to a difficult career choice. My husband bought a business in South Georgia which required us to relocate. After relocation, I continued to work for the same company but due to national system changes the remote positions were eliminated. Instead, the company offered me a leadership position that was a fantastic career opportunity. The role required frequent out-of-state travel and, while I was excited about the role, I was worried about the impact on my family. My children were in middle school and my husband was working long hours every day. I made the difficult decision to pass on the opportunity, which meant leaving the company I had worked for 16 years. I eventually accepted a position with a law firm where my expertise in Property and Casualty insurance enabled me to help the founding attorney of a law firm develop and expand healthcare services that eventually grew into Aspirion.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce, and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

I think that the following will remain the same:

  • Women will still make up at least 46% of the workforce.
  • Work-life balance struggles will still exist for high performers.
  • The remote/hybrid approach to work, which began as a result of the pandemic, will continue as the new norm for tenured employees.

But many areas will be different, such as:

  • Entry-level employees will prefer an in-office environment. We are already observing that new hires value the human interaction and socialization that are part of an in-office culture — especially for the younger generations.
  • Work will be more about decision-making as technology and automation continue to replace keystrokes and rote tasks.
  • The “where” work is performed will be similar to the remote opportunities created in 2020–2022, but the “when” will become more flexible.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

To future-proof an organization, I advise employers to focus on creating “flexibility with accountability” for employees now. Whether it be the type of equipment you choose or the policies you create around attendance, PTO, etc., making flexibility a key component of how you engage with your staff will allow you to adapt and adjust as needed. A necessary requirement for improved flexibility is the ability to clearly measure the productivity and performance of your organization. The two need to go hand-in-hand.

Investing in technology can also help you increase an organization’s level of flexibility for its employees. For instance, instead of contacting a patient by phone, which has to be done during regular business hours, create methodologies utilizing automated email or SMS text that allows the patient to provide information back via web forms or portals, at any time of the day.

Any technology that allows you to expand the hours of opportunity for your employees to schedule their work while engaging with patients how and when it is most convenient for them, could be a good investment.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

There will always be some degree of disconnect between what most employees want for job satisfaction, compensation, and work-life balance and what employers are willing and able to offer. Employers have to meet the performance requirements of the business and its customers, or the business will be at risk. For example, an employee may want to work early morning or evening hours to accommodate the need for less childcare, but if the job entails speaking with patients or customers then the work must take place during regular business hours.

I have always believed that all employees should understand the business basics of their company and the expectations of the customer. It is helpful to understand the relationship between the revenue generated and the cost of doing business. Employees also should understand the need for a business to plan and budget and the challenges that arise when you deviate from the plan.

As a business leader, I am always looking for ways to educate our employees on the basics of our business. But I also want to involve them, as much as possible, in the decisions that impact how they work. Engaged employees often have the best ideas for increased efficiencies and processes that can streamline workflows.

This balance of having a better understanding of the business basics — and also being involved in the process — can help employees understand why their request or idea may not be something that can be accommodated.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

The pandemic forced most businesses that were not open to remote work to get on board with the concept quickly.

For us, we only had a handful of remote team members at the time. These were high-performing individuals who started with us in-house and we had retained them on a remote basis when life took them elsewhere. We weren’t set up to support remote work across the organization, but we were able to adapt and set up the majority of our employees for remote work when other options were not available.

Now that we have worked in this environment for over two years, we have made the necessary adjustments to support remote work from a technology standpoint, which allows us the flexibility to utilize a remote or hybrid workforce now and into the future.

Today, a substantial portion of job seekers want the option to work remotely and being open to remote work allows our company to recruit talent all across the United States.

Even so, we have learned that not all employees want to work remotely. Over 75% of our staff chose to return to the office voluntarily. Additionally, we found some employees were not as productive working from home and were asked to return to the office, where they could have the necessary structure that they needed. There are also job functions that cannot be performed from home so in-office work is required.

I don’t foresee these scenarios changing in the near future, so being open to allowing that flexibility will be key to sustaining our business.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

As more individuals decide to enter or re-enter the workforce, it is important to realize that the nature of work is changing. Simple redundant tasks are being replaced by automation and artificial intelligence, which results in businesses needing fewer employees to accomplish that type of work. Companies will need to expand their workforce with individuals who have decision-making and information-sharing experience and skills. Thus, a higher value on formal training and education may come into play.

As our future workforce becomes more diverse, the opportunities to obtain education and knowledge need to expand as well.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

Our workforce is becoming more diverse, whether it be in gender, age range, or ethnicity. Having more diversity in our workforce will provide different perspectives on the work being done which may lead to new processes and innovations. We do need to make sure our leaders adapt to managing a more diverse workforce to obtain these advantages.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

The pandemic caused many to re-evaluate their life choices and make decisions about what was most important to them. As a result, many left the workforce for early retirement, to stay home with family, or just because “life was too short” to stay in a job that didn’t meet their needs. Some underestimated the lifestyle adjustments necessary when voluntarily reducing their income and are re-entering the job market. These individuals tend to be more inclined to move on from one opportunity to the next quickly before they ever really become part of a team.

Employees need to feel good about the work they do to value their employment. Whether it is about how the work they do benefits others/society or how it is preparing them for their future, we try to make sure that our team members are informed. For example, we try to share statistics about how many patients we help get their medical bills paid every month and how getting paid appropriately for the services that they provide helps our community hospitals stay in business and potentially expand their services.

Employees also need the flexibility to be able to match the way they work with their own needs for a healthy work-life balance, which is not the same for everyone.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation.’ ‘The Great Reconfiguration.’ And now the ‘Great Reevaluation.’ What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

What I have taken away from these headlines is that people are re-evaluating what is important to them, especially when it comes to work-life balance. They are going to look for opportunities that fit their new priorities. If we as business leaders are not willing to embrace the changes that allow us to adapt our approach to how we work, then we are going to struggle to attract and retain top talent.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

Employees increasingly want more flexibility for when they work.

Approximately three years ago, we were reviewing our internal human resources policies. I recall sitting in a lengthy leadership meeting where we were discussing how many times an employee could be late to work before it equaled an “occurrence” and the number of “occurrences” they could have before their performance assessment was impacted. It occurred to me that we were spending a significant amount of time and energy across our entire operation trying to hold our team members accountable to a specific work schedule. I wasn’t sure how we got to that place in the growth of our company, but I wanted it to stop.

Our team members were adults, and it was time we started treating them that way. They either valued their employment with us or they didn’t. Their value was in their performance. If they were having a bad morning for whatever reason, why add to their stress by making them worry about getting a punitive mark for being late? I remember saying to our team that I just wanted “8 good hours every day” and was open to when they chose to give me those hours.

We then focused on figuring out what that type of flexible work schedule would look like. We determined the “window of opportunity” for each position and selected “required time slots” each week to allow for team meetings, training, etc., and let the employees set their own schedules. We allowed more flexibility to make up time and even opened the office on most Saturdays to provide more options.

Our biggest limitation to flexible scheduling is that we often need to communicate with patients by phone which can only occur during certain times of the day. We have invested heavily in our technology to reduce our dependence on phone outreach and allow patients to provide the information we need electronically, at their convenience. This continues to increase our ability to expand those “windows of opportunity” for work schedules.

Work is becoming more intellectual and less manual.

We are constantly looking for ways to use technology to replace manual keystrokes and data entry functions that don’t require a thought process. This allows us to have fewer employees doing rote tasks and more involved employees who are focused on decision making, sharing knowledge, and contributing to the overall process and business success.

The increased attrition from the past two years appears to be leveling off.

Whether driven by the pandemic, generational perspectives, or a by-product of remote work, many in today’s workforce are willing to change jobs for truly little incentive. New hires are accepting a position, then declining the job to take another offer before ever coming on board.

At Aspirion, this increased our attrition during the past year. However, it seems to be changing as more people are entering or reentering the workforce, including recent retirees who are opting to return to the workforce as their retirement accounts and income levels are being adversely impacted by the current economy.

A hybrid capability will be more important than fully remote.

Like most other businesses, we had to respond quickly to set up remote work across our entire operation because of the pandemic. While we found that most employees were just as productive at home as they were in the office, that was not the case for everyone. Some employees needed to be in the office to maintain the best level of productivity. We also found that the majority of our employees preferred to be in the office. We were remote for a time because of the pandemic, but they started returning on their own as soon as cases dropped.

We did find that bringing new hires in-house for their first 60–90 days and then letting those who wanted to transition to remote seemed to result in better retention and faster proficiency than those employees who were trained and onboarded remotely. Those entering the job market for the first time seem to prefer being in an office environment.

As a result, we recently needed to take on additional leased space (which we found at an excellent rate!).

Engaging remote workers should be part of all leadership training.

We were late to recognize the need to teach our leaders how to keep their remote workers engaged. It took us some time before we were willing to admit that the remote/hybrid situation was here to stay. We found that our managers and team leads needed ideas and recommended structures around managing and engaging their remote team members. They now have learned how to engage their teams by utilizing technology such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. They set up regular touchpoints to help connect and develop relationships between their in-office and remote team members.

Even so, we recognize that we still have opportunities in this area, as we continue to adapt to a hybrid work environment.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” Roy T. Bennett

I have experienced a wide range of changes, both personal and professional, over my career — some positive and others unpleasant. The most important realization that I made early on was that the only power I have is how I chose to react to a situation. You are much better served by focusing on creating a positive outcome than stressing about what you can’t control or change.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

I have always been a huge college football fan and would enjoy the opportunity to sit down with College GameDay Host and play-by-play commentator, Rece Davis. With the newly released “name, image, and likeness” (NIL) guidelines, it would be fascinating to get his assessment of the new variables to recruiting decisions — both from the lens of a college and an athlete. The shift from amateurism to player compensation will undoubtedly change the competitive landscape of collegiate sports. In addition, I’m curious to learn what he thinks about the current college football playoff format and its potential future.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

To engage with us, visit our website at https://www.aspirion.com/ or LinkedIn.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.