Remote working means greater workforce support is needed

by Annalie Terblanche at SilverBridge Holdings

Remote working has become part of the standard operating procedure of many companies across industry sectors. At the very least, business leaders have embraced a hybrid environment where employees split their time between the workplace and home. But critical to the success of this new corporate footprint is how companies support their remote workforce.

As we head into the start of another year under the shadow of the pandemic, executives have a better understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of remote working. It is particularly in the insurance industry where a mindset change had to be made especially when it comes to traditional in-person interactions.

According to some, ‘sprints’ of intense, co-located work that last for finite periods of time before returning to long-term cycles of remote work may actually be more productive. During these high intense sessions, employees have the bonding and relationship-building time essential to any workplace culture. This reinforces teamwork and collaboration that lasts even into the remote environment. The reason insurance companies are equipped to adapt to this new reality is that the industry is more agile than many people give it credit for. Working together to roll a product out is key, but so is staying close to the customer and evolving the product in real-time—this process can be easily facilitated in a remote environment.

For this to work, an organisation must be willing to rethink how it approaches its solution development and management. At SilverBridge we understand that the new operating environment requires a more nuanced approach to better enabling teams. At a fundamental level, this sees us creating more value for our clients by giving them solutions capable of working in today’s hybrid environment.

Digitally-led

According to McKinsey, one of the reasons insurance is so agile is the ongoing work the sector has done to embrace modernisation and digitalisation of existing practices. A significant portion of the focus in recent years has been on rebuilding the talent acquisition processes and pipelines for a more modern era.

It believes the pandemic has highlighted how insurers can successfully form virtual agile teams, provide remote insurance advice, and handle policy sales and routine claims management remotely. There have been many instances where management teams have interacted only virtually, having come together after the start of the pandemic. Many insurers are also considering how working remotely can help them become more diverse, especially for technical roles, historically an area in which companies have had difficulty making progress.

As a Microsoft Managed Partner, we have taken the shifts in the landscape to heart. To this end, SilverBridge has integrated Microsoft Teams into the Exergy policy administration suite to make it easier than ever for the distributed workforce to fulfil their strategic deliverables.

Managing relationships

Of course, there is a balance to all this. Even though insurers have generally been accepting of remote work, maintaining good relationships with colleagues are still critical. The perceived value of solid relationships with peers is a significant influencing factor in how hybrid work and ongoing support in this environment are managed.

Unlike many other industries, employment levels in insurance have remained constant with people working the same amount of time or more than in the pre-pandemic days. However, the shift to remote work has accelerated digitalisation and automation to ensure remote employees remain productive with access to more data-driven tools.

Overall, insurance is well-positioned to capitalise on hybrid working and continue providing employees with the means to be effective. Upskilling and reskilling continuously will be important, but also access to the right technology. Fortunately, these are all things that have been central to the modernisation processes of insurers for many years.

Comments: