How the ‘magic bullet’ of smart technology needs to be balanced with personal preference in a post-pandemic world
By John Ridd, CEO
As the impact of the lockdown continues to be felt across the insurance and claims sectors, we have seen a sharp increase in demand for our technology. But simultaneously, many firms are losing high numbers of staff to self-isolation or furloughing.
Those who remain in post are having to do more, while the process of managing urgent claims are being hampered by the need to comply with social distancing. For professionals who need reliable and evidential-quality records of interactions with others and high quality digital content – but are prohibited from holding face-to-face meetings – it’s become the perfect storm.
Even when as we emerge from the lockdown, it’s going to take a long time for the sector to return to anything vaguely resembling what we might consider normality. Further, many of the dramatic changes we have made to our lives (both professionally and personally) in the last three months will, I believe, become permanently embedded in our work culture going forward.
Conversations are already going on across the sector about what the new normal might look like, and suddenly options that would have seemed completely unthinkable in January are now very much on the table.
Do we actually need a call centre? Do we really need to finance a fleet of company cars? Do our staff have to jump on a plane, hire a car and stay in a hotel to undertake a single site visit? Is that satellite office commercially justifiable? Could we not simply conduct the annual sales conference over Zoom? And so on.
And while the lockdown been a dramatic catalyst for the some in the insurance world – especially with regards to the rapid adoption of ‘self-reporting’ digital technology like eviid’s, and the wonder of video conferencing – we need to be mindful that it’s still the skill and judgement of actual people which underpins what we do.
In other words just because we could all take this opportunity to strip out costs, reduce overheads and radically restructure our businesses – based on our experiences over the last few months – doesn’t mean we all should rush to do it.
Because for every ten employees who have found the WFH experience a positive and productive one, you might have another ten who are really struggling.
Further, of those ten, six of them might be the type of highly experienced and hardworking individuals who contribute significantly to your bottom line; the kind of people you are going to need to help ‘right the ship’ over the next few years.
Of course, in the current economic climate no-one is going to officially admit to having difficulties in adjusting to working under lockdown, and it’s far too early to say what the psychological impact of remote working might be operationally and commercially.
It’s also important to bear in mind that many of us are not working from home; we’re at home, working.
There’s a big difference, especially if your domestic setting is not conducive to regular video-conferencing, complex report writing, reviewing crucial evidence or interviewing claimants remotely.
So, before embracing a brave new world of clicks-not-bricks, digital-only-dialogue, and virtual trading; consider how your staff feel, and ask them what might work best for them as the restrictions start to be loosened.
A balanced and flexible approach is probably going to be the long-term solution; adopting new technologies and structures which enable our businesses to be more cost-effective and highly-efficient while also ensuring our key people enjoy a working environment – whether at home or elsewhere – which keeps them positive, motivated and productive.
Clearly this won’t happen overnight, and there will inevitably be some major ‘fails’ along the way.
But if there is one thing we have all learnt from being thrust into this situation, it’s that we are remarkably innovative and adaptable in the face of a crisis.
How we channel that agility and ingenuity into the way we run our businesses post-covid will be our next big test.
John Ridd, eviid CEO.