At Gaspar Insurance, working in the office resembles the sort of new normal people have become accustomed to – at least for now.
Owner Tim Gaspar anticipates the office will eliminate most of its COVID-19 precautions as soon as feasible; he expects to drop most of them not long after the June 15 state reopening.
For now, each of the 25 employees in the Woodland Hills office all wear masks while in the office, unless they are alone in a closed room. Lunches are staggered and one of the two break rooms is closed because it is too small to socially distance inside. Plexiglass dividers prevent face-to-face contact in high-traffic areas. Hand sanitizer and extra masks are available for those who need them and there are signs throughout the office to remind people of best safety practices.
“We’re going to follow whatever the CDC says, of course,” said Gaspar. “But, especially after June 15, I think we’re going to see things accelerate really quickly.”
More than 80 percent of the office employees are now fully vaccinated, Gaspar said, and many have opted to return to the office at least part time, without having to be called back. The office will be officially called back, with most of the rest of his employees returning to their desks, beginning June 1. Gaspar explained that had been planned as the return date ahead of the anticipated state reopening.
For employees with lingering safety or child-care concerns, work-from-home options remain in place and, for the foreseeable future, Gaspar will implement a more flexible work schedule going forward.
Gaspar has always embraced the benefits of a work-from-home model when possible. Long-term employees had existing procedures in place, prior to the pandemic, which allowed them to work from home at least one day a week. Now, seeing the effectiveness over the last year, Gaspar is embracing a three day in-office work week and plans to allow most employees to work from home the rest of the time, as long as productivity remains high.
The existing procedures allowed for a smooth transition to a remote office when initial restrictions were implemented last year, so the office was able to adjust relatively quickly and keep service smooth during the disruptions. There’s no chance the office will close for a more permanent work-from-home arrangement, however, because of the difficulty onboarding new staff and maintaining the office sales culture while fully remote.
“Other than more work from home, I don’t really think things have changed for us all that much,” Gaspar said.
The insurance business doesn’t require clients to meet in the office very often, though some regulars still visit, so the exposure risk is mainly between coworkers. And, while Gaspar said his employees have been committed to following the procedures for safety, everyone is ready to take things a little easier going forward.
“People worry a lot – especially our customers, they worry a lot,” Gaspar said. “But with the infection rate as low as it is now, I’d say to worry about what’s likely to occur. The chances of getting sick in the office now are much lower.”