The concept of remote work may seem like old news to some, but for the insurance sector, which has been slower to adapt to change, adapting to a remote model was a monumental undertaking.
Now, as businesses are opening back up to employees, agency leaders are meeting resistance when it comes to returning to the office full-time.
After two years of remote work, many employees don’t want to go back to full-time commutes, cubicles, and conference rooms. They’ve been working remotely long enough to not only adjust to the “new normal” but are more productive than they were before. An Accenture survey found that 82% of Chief HR Officers (CHROs) reported high workforce productivity from their remote workforce, and 88% said that employees were more engaged than before the pandemic. Nearly half (47%) of employers surveyed by Accenture said they intend to allow employees to work from home full-time moving forward. (Great news for introverts like our own Kate Shopper!) McKinsey research shows that 80% of employees enjoy working remotely, and 41% report being more productive.
To retain current workers and recruit a new generation of agents and brokers, insurers will need a resilient work model that is flexible and accommodating to employees, no matter where they choose to work. This requires a significant shift in thinking. Many insurance companies have remained committed to their local talent pools, recruiting leaders and workers for whom the office commute has never been in question. But now, with two years of operational data about the remote or hybrid work experience, insurers have a deeper insight into the pros and cons of remote work. As it turns out, the location of your agents matters less when the trade-offs are boosted productivity, reduced operational costs, and higher customer satisfaction. Research also points to greater employee loyalty and reduced workforce churn when employers offer flexible work arrangements.
For business operations, the benefits are considerable: a typical employer can save $11,000 per year for every person that works remotely for 50 percent of the time, according to Accenture. They also get access to a larger talent pool to fill open job roles. Why limit yourself to geography when searching for the best people?
For employees, remote working means more flexibility, less travel time, and, for some, better work/life balance and improved employee satisfaction. However, as organizations, roles, and individuals differ, remote working might not be for everyone—just yet. The name of the game here is flexibility. Insurers need to provide solutions for agents who prefer to come to the office and for those who want to work from anywhere.
Being mobile-friendly means family and life-friendly
The best support system for remote and in-office agents gives them the confidence to get the job done, no matter where they are. Broking on the move takes digital transformation to the next level, giving insurers the ability to service clients seamlessly from anywhere, at any time. It means agents are just a few clicks away from all the data they need about clients, contracts, and carriers on any device, from any location – securely and in real-time.
This only works if your Insurance Distribution Platform is truly born in the cloud. Here’s a good litmus test: if your agents still have to download tools onto their laptops, it’s not a cloud-native solution. In this webinar with Celent (a leading research and advisory firm focused on technology for financial institutions), you can also learn more about the three core elements of migrating to the cloud: Which model to choose, who should you partner with to succeed, and how to push such an initiative with management.
Different Cloud Approaches
Image credit: Celent
The right solution empowers brokers to show relevant data to clients during meetings, produce documentation quickly and easily, and agree on transactions in the client’s office using a tablet, laptop, or mobile phone. They can send and generate documentation while traveling to face-to-face meetings. Agents must have secure tools to work with complete flexibility from wherever they happen to be, including from home.
However, remote working has shown that many agencies need to update their technology systems and processes to provide a more modern, flexible foundation for this new way of working.
Areas of improvement include:
- Removing rekeying and repetitive admin, freeing up your remote staff to focus on more valuable work, such as client service.
- Automating workflows to prompt the right actions at the right time, ensuring revenue opportunities don’t slip through the cracks.
- Consolidating data from various spreadsheets, post-it notes, and inboxes into a single system that allows secure, real-time access – by the underwriter, by the client, by a line of business, or any other way your agents want to view it.
- Combining multiple disparate back-, middle- and front-office systems into a single, streamlined, end-to-end system with an open API structure for ease of integration.
- Cloud-native agency management that’s scalable, making it painless to add new lines of business or new risk products your customers want and need.
For anyone currently evaluating insurance distribution platform vendors, this checklist is crucial. But there’s so much more. As our resident expert Jamie McDonnell pointed out in his blog, many teams lack access to Management Information (MI) while working remotely; they don’t have a full view of their business. The right agency management solution delivers actionable management intelligence to your remote workforce when they need it on any device. Regardless of where they’re logging in, agents, brokers, and managers need real-time access to a full, 360-degree view of the business and highlight areas for improvement and revenue generation.