There’s one lesson we’ll all take away from the coronavirus pandemic: remote work is here to stay. It’s a viable and even preferable way of conducting business. Why? Because it expands our productivity outside the physical office. Even with your agents and staff engaging from home during this time, your operations didn’t grind to a halt.
Going forward, it makes smart business sense to plan for more, not less remote work. With or without social distancing, there are many good reasons to enable remote work. For example, team members inevitably get stuck at home with a sick child or spouse. Rather than lose those work days (or weeks), why not let them access their office files and bind policies using auto-sign? Why shouldn’t agents Zoom into meetings or launch an email campaign from their hotel room or backyard?
Tools for Remote Success
The key to a successful remote agency is having the right tools that let your team work from anywhere. Note these same tools improve team productivity inside the agency, too.
When we say the “right tools” we mean InsurTech solutions because remote work is by nature technology-driven.You simply can’t support a remote staff with manual procedures or low-tech half measures. In fact, you could end up causing more harm than good.
Ramping Up to Remote: Where does your agency stand?
We’re here to help you plan your strategy and move into full remote agency mode. Let’s start by looking at what technologies your peers are using now by analyzing data from the InsurTech Award. We’ve extracted some key findings from the application survey related to “remote work readiness.”
Using Technology to Improve Organizational Efficiency
Almost one-quarter of agencies identified team/company organization as the top problem they want to address with technology. Specifically, respondents cited project and task management as the top concern in this area, followed by team communication.
Task and Project Management
We found mixed adoption rates for keeping track of company tasks and projects. Almost three-quarters of respondents are using calendar tools (Google Calendar, Outlook). Yet only 22% use task management tools like Trello or Asana. Not everyone is good at prioritizing or managing their to-dos, and the potential for missed meetings, deadlines and business increases with remote work. We can tell you from our own experience: project management software makes a huge difference. ePayPolicy was already using Trello when the pandemic hit, and our team members were grateful as they began to work from home.
Instant messaging is another “must-have” to keep remote workers connected. Our survey found mixed results in this area. The majority (63%) are using instant messaging. However, 17% said it “doesn’t work” or “it’s not used often.” What’s the point of having a tool that you can’t or don’t use? If you are not already one of the 63%, you owe it to your team (and your business) to migrate to instant messaging. Trust us, it’s faster and more accurate than searching through email threads.
The ability to meet with team members virtually is a pillar of today’s remote agencies.
And now that we’re all pro “Zoomers,” it’s hard to imagine going back to all in-person meetings or conference calls without video. We found that only 12% of agencies polled are not using virtual meeting tools like GoToMeeting, Zoom or Google Hangouts. Over half said they use virtual meetings often, and 22% said they started using them due to the coronavirus situation. During this time, personal use has skyrocketed, as people seek to connect safely with family and friends. So there should be little to no learning curve for using virtual meetings for agency business.
Next Steps for Your Independent Agency
We share this information for only one reason: to help you focus, prioritize and equip your team for ongoing remote work—or to take your agency to the next level of virtual teamwork.
Which technologies are you using now, and which areas offer the biggest opportunities for a seamless remote team? Note that 75% of respondents told us they’ve increased their budget for technology solutions since the beginning of 2020. Technology is an investment that helps teams work smarter—wherever they’re working!
The 2020 InsurTech Award is still accepting entries. Check out the judging criteria, submit your application and get a customized report of your agency’s tech adoption progress. You may even win a grand prize worth over $7,500!