Social distancing does what it says on the tin, but tech is keeping insurance business teams together
Staff are top priority for broking and underwriting businesses during the Coronavirus crisis, aided wherever possible by technology to support effective social distancing and productive remote working.
The Covid-19 crisis plays against key strengths of the London market: traditional face-to-face broking and underwriting at Lloyd’s; and the concentration of human talent in EC3 insurance businesses.
The onus on tech can also favour the biggest firms, more likely than smaller companies to have slick systems and flexible working policies in place.
For smaller London market underwriting and broking outfits, maintaining morale and keeping the team motivated represents a challenge as the weeks of distance and isolation wear on.
This should reduce the effects of cabin fever. Agree useful schedules for keeping regular team meetings through conference calls and video calls. Check in with your team regularly, whether or not you think its essential. Unless you communicate, you won’t know for sure. Working alone can be mentally tough. Daily and weekly communication routines to keep teams and sub-teams talking will help ease the strain and be good for business.
Use whatever technology works for people working remotely. Tech is freely available, whether or not its been a source of investment before the crisis. The same communications tools popular for keeping families together can work well for business teams. Use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp or whatever other apps work best to stay in touch.
Understand the pros and cons of the top 5 video conferencing platforms in our recent blog
When someone notices and appreciates your hard work, it’s a great boost for morale. This can have an even bigger impact when you’re working remotely, as when you’re not there to receive a simple thanks in person, it can feel like your efforts have gone unnoticed.
There are online employee recognition platforms that allow you to tag recognitions with your company values, create polls to allow your team to vote for best performers and even allows you to send shopping vouchers as a reward for great work. It’s a great way to reward your employees and keep everyone feeling engaged when working remotely.
One in four adults experience mental illness. Many of us that that haven’t experienced it yet will face it in future. Encourage team members, regardless of whether they’ve experienced problems or not, to fill in a WAP, and discuss it one-to-one, in case they do start to feel down. That way, there will be practical steps, already in place, to ensure people are supported when they aren't feeling great.
Not everyone is used to the life of a freelancer, working from home and managing their own time. It can be harder for people to ‘switch off’ from their inbox when their office space is also their living room. Ensure they are working reasonable hours and no more than that. Make it OK for dogs, cats, rats and children to appear on screen during calls – we’re all in the same boat. Encourage your team to take an hour for daily exercise, getting outdoors once a day for some fresh air and a change of scenery.
It’s important to listen and react to your employees, especially in times of crisis. That way, you can spot problem areas and fix them before it’s too late. There are tools on the market that allow you to collect feedback with short pulse surveys that give you a real-time picture of your organisation. That means you can maintain honest, transparent communication without disrupting your team’s workflow.
Ensure your team is up to date on the latest company news to reassure and motivate. Whether this be via the company intranet, town hall webinars, email staff newsletters now is the time to be as inclusive as you can in how the business is performing and what the ask is of your employees.
Laughter brings teams together. It’s hard to have banter over video conference but there are ‘imaginative’ ways in which you can team build. Virtual pub quizes, 5pm G&Ts, recreating memes, bring a prop Tuesday’s and super-hero Wednesday’s are just some ideas we’ve seen work well in the market.
This is a tough time but it won’t last forever, we will learn from it and it’s likely to change our working environments for the better.
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