Is hybrid work right for your insurance agency?
Love it or hate it, some form of remote work is here to stay. In the insurance industry, where relationships are paramount, the idea of remote work hasn’t always been largely embraced. Then COVID-19 happened, and nearly everyone who could work from home had to, practically overnight.
The new world of remote work
Since March of 2020, the entire concept of where and how we work has shifted. Across all industries, only about 6% of the workforce earned a living remotely prior to the pandemic. Even more surprising, three-quarters of workers reported they never worked from home before at all!
Recent studies suggest that around 20 percent of the workforce will remain remote, which continues to be a popular trend with employees and employers alike. Still, there’s been some opposition to entirely remote work. Some companies don’t embrace it and some employees don’t prefer it.
While some industries were never able to go remote at all, those that were are now facing the challenges of trying to bring back pre-pandemic office environments. Employees are largely still hesitant to return to the office full-time, and they have good reasons for that hesitation. So what’s a company to do? More specifically, what’s the solution for an independent insurance agency that’s already competing for talent in a shrinking insurance workforce?
The benefits of hybrid work for insurance staff
The answer may be in a hybrid work arrangement. This middle ground between fully in-office and fully remote is turning out to be a sweet spot for workers and companies. In one recent study, productivity was higher in administrative employees who worked one or two days each week in the office than in their fully-remote or entirely office-based counterparts.
In contrast to the “new normal”, hybrid work may actually be the “new better” if companies can find a way to balance employee preferences for remote work with business needs and keep company culture intact.
Overall, the insurance industry weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than other industries did. Industry leaders even say the pandemic was a catalyst for adopting technology and furthering innovation. Now, independent insurance agencies and their agents are set up to reap the benefits of a hybrid workforce, including:
- Higher employee engagement and satisfaction
- Less overhead (office) expenses
- The ability to attract talent from across the U.S.
- The necessity for a higher-tech work environment to facilitate hybrid workers
These points, and more, can be advantages in an industry that’s trying to revamp its image to attract and retain the next generation of workers.
Successful hybrid work at your insurance agency
Hybrid work may be great for insurance agencies, producers, and office staff – in theory. But how do you make it work in real life at your agency?
Clear expectations for hybrid work
To have a successful hybrid work environment, employees should know who’s making the decisions about their workdays. It should be clear which days they’re expected to commute to the office, or if it’s truly up to them on a weekly basis. Clarity over expectations ensures a positive work-life balance for employees, and helps your agency and your clients get their needs met.
Utilize office days for group collaboration
If you’re taking advantage of a hybrid work arrangement at your independent agency, make sure to maximize the time spent in-person by using these opportunities for collaborative tasks, while staff can work on individual duties on their remote days. Employees don’t want to feel like they’re going to the office “just because.” Your agency can use these dedicated in-person days to build company culture and to encourage a flow of ideas between team members.
Understand individual working styles and needs
A lot of people learned that they work better in the quiet of their own home, thanks to being forced to do so during COVID-19. Other people realized just how much they need the energy of an office filled with coworkers and visiting clients. When designing and implementing a hybrid work environment at your insurance agency, it’s important to consider different people will have different preferences.
Implement effective collaboration tools for a hybrid workforce
Embracing the best technology available is one way to empower your staff to do their jobs from any combination of home, office, or anywhere. It can also distinguish your agency from the competition in an industry that’s still widely low-tech. If your agency’s technology has been cobbled together and still requires multiple logins, working across multiple applications, and even doing work on paper files, it’s time to seriously consider future-proofing your insurance agency. There’s no shortage of collaboration and workflow management tools out there, many even purpose-built for the insurance industry. If you’re serious about providing an exceptional experience to your producers and other staff, making sure they have the right technology in place is key.
Hybrid work is here to stay in the insurance industry
Some have described hybrid work as the best of both worlds. Others believe in-person work is essential to forming the relationships and culture needed to allow for successful remote work to happen. Whatever your stance, evidence points to hybrid work being around for the long haul. As an independent agency owner, or any small business owner for that matter, providing the structure and support to empower your staff can help foster the employee loyalty and trust you need for the future of your agency’s success.
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