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'I'm so happy to be back' | Insurance brokerage reimagines office space in response to hybrid work schedule

Aon employees returned to the East Grand Rapids office earlier this month for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A workplace in West Michigan is reimagining its office space to line up with changes because of the pandemic. 

A Gallup survey found that while employees are returning to the office, there is more remote flexibility than ever nationwide. It's estimated that more than half of U.S. workplaces offer some sort of hybrid work schedule, like the Aon office in East Grand Rapids. 

"I'm so happy to be back," Aon Assistant Vice President Alyson Snyder says. "It's been a long three years."

Employees returned to the office earlier this month, for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

"It's really gathering for those moments that matter," Snyder says.

The global insurance brokerage is one of many businesses allowing for remote work post-pandemic. Employees here can choose when to work in-person and when to work from home.

Snyder says this is the first time she's meeting some of the her colleagues face-to-face.

"Many of the Health Solutions team, they were hired during the pandemic, over the course last three years," she says. "So, they started virtually."

The hybrid schedule has allowed them to move into a new, smaller office in the Gaslight Village compared to their previous location in downtown Grand Rapids.

"We have collaborative spaces where we can meet as teams, as well as some more private spaces that we can go to have focus time," Snyder says. 

"We've really set our office up to be technologically advanced," Account Executive Bob Ziesel says. "As an example, we can walk in a room and tell the conference room to start the meeting for us. So, it's made it really easy to continue that virtual approach with our clients."

He says he's been coming in about three days a week so far.

"It's nice to come in the office and have lunch with somebody other than my dogs," Ziesel says. "But it's just been great to see my colleagues."

He says he appreciates the flexibility.

"When you're needing to stay focused and have calls all day, that's a great day to stay home. But when you need to collaborate with your colleagues, we're happy to have a space to come and do so," Ziesel says.

Snyder knows that job seekers are often looking for hybrid schedules.

"I think it's really attractive, because you will have some colleagues that want to be more home-based, but are intentional about gathering for client meetings and meeting with other colleagues, as well as those that are really looking to be more in the office full time," she says. 

The East Grand Rapids office has a 70 percent seat-to-colleague ratio. Aon also reimagined their office space in the Detroit area this month.

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