Health and protection insurance intermediaries plan to continue with hybrid working as the country emerges from the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Health & Protection reported that health insurers are planning to continue with hybrid working following the pandemic despite predictions from think tank the Centre for Cities which expects the five-day office week to become the norm again within two years.
And it appears intermediaries are planning to follow suit.
Mixed feelings about returning
Reassured is one such company. Laura Benton, the life insurance broker’s chief operating officer, explained that while the return to work is something leadership teams tend to be excited about, employees have mixed feelings about a return to business as usual.
“The desires for a return range from improving performance, engagement, or simply just because someone at the top wants ‘normal’ back,” she said.
“But people now have well formed habits, their lives have evolved around homeworking, and if they are doing their work to a high standard why take it away?
“We realised through lockdown that it’s the person, not the location, that determines these things which is why if our amazing employees continue to do an amazing job by our customers working from home, we have no intention of stopping this.
“They can continue to work flexibly between their home and the office and have the best of both. Throughout Covid most people have worked twice as hard to navigate the pandemic – they have earned their flexibility and we intend to continue giving it to them,” Benton added.
Moving to smaller premises
Guy Jones, director at Berwick Devoil Healthcare, told Health & Protection the health insurance broker’s team have successfully worked from home since March of last year, with staff demonstrating commitment and a strong work ethic.
And Jones adds the move to flexible working has proven so successful that the firm has served notice on its current office and plans to move to a much a smaller one.
“It will act as a hub for everyone to come to once or twice a week to re-establish face-to-face interaction with their colleagues and an option to work in the office when ever they choose,” he said.
“Technology has played a big part in making this possible but its the human technology i.e. mental health that drives this and we want to ensure they know they are valued and are part of a team with common goals.
“Our employees had for some time been interested in remote working but it was out of necessity when Covid hit us that we were able to set it up and see how it worked.”
Jones predicts a working blend of those who want to work from an office five days a week and those that are happy to work remotely.
“The week could also become a 24/7 working week so employees can choose their own work times and days, this will be driven by customer demand for service and roles that do not need to be specifically carried out during nine to five,” he added.
Dave Middleton, chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII), told Health & Protection he works with two businesses in the employee benefits sector as a consultant and neither plans to reintroduce five day working in an office post-pandemic.
Situation across the sector
Shedding light on what’s happening across the sector, insurance compliance consultant Branko Bjelobaba told Health & Protection that most of his work is in compliance training and he has noticed that around eight in 10 are attending training sessions over Zoom from home.
But looking ahead with regard to a return to five day working from an office, Bjelobaba predicts much will depend on government announcements on Monday about whether the UK can fully open up from 21 June.