If I had only known then, what I know now…
That’s always what we say, right? If I had only known …. I would have done things differently. And yet, how often do we examine our own biases or thought process on something long enough to not only consider a different way of doing something, but to also actually change how we go about it?
When I left my last job the concept of working remotely was not new, in fact, it was becoming commonplace. We had the technology, the checks and balances for ensuring work was getting done, and the staff who were asking for the flexibility. So, why weren’t we allowing it more often? Now that I see firsthand how beneficial remote workers can be, I’ll share three reasons you might be hesitating using remote workers:
- It’s not our culture, we need staff in the office
If you need people in your office to say hello to customers as they walk in the door then you’re right, a remote worker can’t do that. However, if you’re just used to having people in the office to fill a chair at a desk and be available when a producer or co-worker walks by and wants to talk, then re-think your culture. The ability for a CSR or account manager (or claims representative, or underwriter, or accounting personnel…) to respond to an internal or external inquiry is no different if done from 5 feet away as it is from 5,000 miles away, so long as it is done with the same amount of professionalism and handled in a timely manner. Here’s the good news: you get to set the ground rules for what “timely manner” means for you and your office. Setting expectations and clearly communicating how work should get done is management 101. So, do you really need someone in the office or do you need to reset your office culture?
- We’re not sure work will get done
This is often the biggest concern for adopting a remote work option. However, now more than ever there are systems that can show you the work getting done via data analytics. You know your office and clientele best and should know how long it typically takes to keep work moving along. If you have communicated your expectations (see #1 above) and you don’t feel someone is performing adequately then you need to explore why. Do they have the right tools, software, support, and procedures in place? If the answer is yes, then explore what’s holding them back. It’s possible that distractions in their remote environment are to blame. It’s entirely possible that some employees just aren’t disciplined to work remotely. But, it’s entirely possible a good portion of your staff can, and will, work just fine from outside the office. You won’t know until you trust them. So, are you sure work won’t get done or could you communicate expectations and trust your staff?
- Not everyone wants to do this, so we can’t allow it
Hmmmm….and not everyone wants to commute but right now that’s what you’re requiring, right? So, consider remote working as a benefit. Some people might want it, others may not and that’s okay. As you’re looking for talented insurance professionals you might be overlooking a population of available people who have the capabilities you need, but who want a remote work environment.
I wish someone would have told me that believing expectations will be met is far easier than wasting energy assuming the outcome with a remote employee will be a bad one. Trust me. – Elizabeth Kordek, CPCU Senior Placement Specialist