As companies begin to emerge from Alert Level 3, conversations will turn towards the level of flexibility employees can expect from now on – and, according to one insurer, the lockdown has demonstrated a number of opportunities when it comes to working, training and hiring.
Medical Assurance Society (MAS) chief executive Martin Stokes (pictured) says that the past six weeks have been a kind of mass social experiment, and, as a result, the workplace flexibility trends that were already emerging have been accelerated massively. He says the level of productivity in some areas has been surprisingly high in a remote environment, and, as a result, a much higher level of flexibility will become the norm.
“This situation has identified for us the opportunities that would otherwise likely have emerged over a much longer period of time,” Stokes told Insurance Business.
“Social trends would have influenced people’s thoughts around where they wanted to work, flexibility, different working arrangements, etc. But that’s really been concentrated into a six week-long social experiment where everybody’s had a taste of what that’s like enforced upon them.”
“We’ve had the opportunity now to test communication in a distributed workforce environment, and we’ve been managing different ways of working other than “we’ll just get together in a meeting and have a chat and a PowerPoint,” he explained.
“We’ve learnt that there are equally effective – and potentially even more effective – ways of doing that remotely.”
Stokes noted that, previously, the hiring process for MAS’s main call centre in Wellington would have been focused exclusively on the Wellington job market. However, the past six weeks have demonstrated that this no longer needs to be the case, and a suitable candidate can be considered no matter where they’re based.
Read more: How have insurance companies faced COVID-19?
“If anything, this situation has really opened our eyes to lots of new opportunities,” Stokes said.
“We actually had four or five people who had just started as we went into lockdown, and so all of their training was undertaken under those restrictions. Interestingly, they actually got through that process at a slightly faster rate than they would have in an office environment.”
“Ultimately, there are a lot of questions we want to ask around why some things were more productive, and others perhaps not as productive,” he concluded. “All of this will help inform our future working arrangements.”