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Being remote doesn’t necessarily mean being far away

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Published on:25th April 2021
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As we emerge out the other side of the pandemic, the big question is, which changes will stick?

There can be no doubt that necessity has been the mother of invention over the last year as a result of the global pandemic and the associated social-distancing related restrictions. Remote buying, selling, and working were all forced upon us, almost overnight, and on a global scale. The big question remains however, as we look forward, hopefully, to emerging out the other side of the pandemic, as to which changes will stick.

As a London Market-based insurtech we have seen three major areas of change in terms of the importance of location, driven by Covid-19:

  • First of all, we have secured new business for our Underwriting Workbench solution from companies not only outside of London but from outside of the UK.
  • Secondly, we have been able to recruit new employees outside of commuting distance – including as far afield as South Africa – increasing our ability to attract more diverse talent.
  • Finally, and supporting the first two changes, we have seen the rapid adoption of technology, from zoom through to online whiteboards, within our own and our customers’ businesses.

So, returning to our theme, will these changes stick, remain the new normal, or will we see the emergence of hybrids evolve?

Geography is no longer a barrier

The removal of geography as a perceived barrier to securing and servicing customers, in combination with a surge in use of the cloud, is, we believe, a permanent change. Experience breeds confidence that feeds into actions; and perceived barriers to using partners around the globe and not just close by have been well and truly dismantled. In our case, the securing of a major new customer in the US last year, who we largely communicated with digitally, will not be a one off, and others are already in the pipeline. This change has also corresponded with an uptick in projects across the board being given the green light since the turn of the year.

The removal of proximity to the office as a prerequisite for recruitment will also be permanent, although we do expect to see the return of some office working and the emergence of a hybrid model with a mix of home, remote, and office working. The removal of geography also increases the ability to have a more diverse, in all its forms, workforce as we can fish for talent in a much wider pool. The only caveat, and it is a key one, is that with any hybrid model there has to be a real focus on providing employees, and potential employees, not only with choice but with support and structures in place to ensure inclusivity and engagement of all employees no matter where they work.

The technology that has helped enable the above changes, and which has been adopted, in the main, at haste, does we believe also herald a permanent change, although digital transformation is of course an ongoing journey rather than a final destination.

At the outset of this pandemic, we, and our clients, as did nearly all businesses, rapidly adopted widescale use of collaborative online tools – and as did others, chopped and changed these as we went, based on our experiences, to get the best solutions for our business. Governance and controls were also retrofitted.

Across the commercial insurance market, we have seen real evidence of two-speed IT: the necessary drive for quick-fixes being accompanied by slower, more longer-term investments with an eye on the future.

The future is hybrid

And as we all look with increasing confidence towards emerging from this pandemic, we are all trying to work out what that future will be. What we do know, is that it won’t be the same as the past. But it won’t be the same as our new present either.

It will be a hybrid of the two, a fusion matching the benefits of technology which have freed us from geographical barriers and brought improved productivity, efficiency, accuracy, and speed across commercial insurance underwriting with more traditional, methodical, and thorough ways of working. The future is about technology and people coming together for the benefit of all – the business, the employee, and of course, the customer.

Author info: Andy Moss – COO and co-founder at Send. To get in touch with Andy and find out more about Send, you can find him on LinkedIn.

Image credit: Louis Maniquet.

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