COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Aflac will begin phasing employees back into their offices beginning in July.

As the world locked down last year, the company sent workers home in the second week of March. Now, Aflac is preparing to implement their plan for getting people back into the office. 

“I’m just looking forward to having everybody back and continuing the relationships that we already have,” Chief Human Resources Officer, Matthew Owenby, said. “I think there is a massive amount of structure that the physical environment gives people and a connection to the past and history of Aflac is really best experienced in person.”

As people come back to work, things will look a bit different— desks will be socially distant and not everyone will be back in the office at once. 

“Before the pandemic hit, this was a bit of an ongoing family reunion,” Owenby said. “You were excited to come back, work with family, friends, colleagues…. and ‘extremely welcoming’ is how I would describe the culture.”

Their phase-in plan will focus first on getting customer-service-focused roles and technology-heavy roles back in their building. Getting back to full capacity is going to take a span of about a year, with hopes they will eventually have a full house next July. 

Though some people are excited about returning to work, others have adjusted to and prefer working from home. A hybrid model may be a possibility for employees in non-customer-facing roles. 

Throughout the pandemic, Aflac continued to hire employees and additionally provided a summer internship program. People who joined the company in the last 16 months have likely never been to campus, as they have worked remotely since their hiring. 

“We recognize that it’s important to have a physical connection to where you work…. even if it’s one or two times, you benefit greatly from that,” Owenby said. “They’re part of our return-to-work program.”