The coronavirus pandemic has fueled the work-from-home movement. Although some people in Europe were already working from home before COVID-19 spread around the globe, the number of remote workers rose sharply in response to the pandemic.
Fortunately, the insurance industry is especially well-suited to work-from-home arrangements. Many insurance processes can now be completed digitally, which means that it is often possible to work remotely.
But it’s not just possible. It may also be desirable. The shift to remote work happened in response to an emergency, and the most obvious and pressing advantages relate to public health and safety regarding the pandemic. However, there are other advantages, as well, and these benefits will continue long after the pandemic is over.
For some employees, getting rid of the commute may be the greatest benefit. Commute times vary greatly from region to region and from individual to individual. However, it is not uncommon for workers to spend an hour each day commuting. That’s five hours a week or – assuming a person works 48 weeks out of the year – 240 hours a year.
All that time could be spent on other pursuits, both professional and personal.
Many employees also enjoy working from home. The arrangement may make it easier for individuals to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and many people are simply more comfortable and productive at home.
When the employee prospers, the employer prospers as well. If remote work arrangements improve employee satisfaction, the company may spend less on retention and recruitment as a result.
But the cost savings don’t end there. Employers who embrace remote work may also save money on office space, office equipment, energy, and other costs related to maintaining a physical location.
The Drawbacks Are Surmountable
Even proponents of remote work in the insurance industry must admit that there are some potential drawbacks. Luckily, these drawbacks can be addressed and mitigated.
Cybersecurity should be a top concern. As insurance companies handle large quantities of sensitive data, its security is of the utmost importance. Companies must comply with the GDPR’s requirements for data security and data breach notification. Basic cybersecurity measures include training workers on data security and making sure that the computer systems used are secure – even when employees are working from home.
Productivity is another concern. Many employers worry that their workers will slack off when left unsupervised. Of course, this can happen in an office setting, too. Nevertheless, it is a potential problem. Some employers address this by monitoring employees. If taking this route, it is important to comply with Europe’s data privacy laws. According to SHRM, this will include providing notice of data collection. Another option is to hire employees you trust, communicate expectations clearly, and focus on results.
Finally, isolation is another potential issue. Employees who work alone may become lonely. Managers should strive to create a positive environment, even if that environment is virtual, and connections can be made via email, text, phone, and video conferencing. Also, while the pandemic has limited in-person contact for the time being, once the need for this has passed, remote work can be coupled with in-person activities.
The pandemic has added fuel to the remote work fire. Although there are some issues to work out, there are also many benefits. As the insurance industry adopts a modern, digitalized process, remote work will likely be a part of that.
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