You knew that it was bound to happen one of these days. Your employee has been struggling to make it to work with all of those family demands, and one day, he asks you the question: is it possible to work from home part of the time? According to a Gallup survey completed in 2017, "43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely." Before your employees ask this question, you need to consider what you would say.
Are You Flexible With Time?
One common reason for working from home is to help shift work hours around caregiving. Those who are taking care of a child, a spouse, or an elderly relative can really appreciate this flexibility. It can mean the difference between keeping and losing a long-term, valued employee.
However, insurance jobs vary, and you also need to consider the type of work that your employee does. Is it project-based work that could be done at any time of the day or night? Does your employee need to connect with or even meet with others during regular workday hours?
Alternatively, you could find that having some flexible, work-from-home employees is actually beneficial for your agency's schedule. For instance, if it's easier for someone to work until 7 pm, this could benefit your insurance company if you decide to offer later hours to catch those clients who want to make insurance inquiries after work hours.
What About Security?
Insurance involves a lot of personal information. From phone lines to computers, you'll need to make sure that you have all of the tools not just to have people work at home well, but to do so with sensitivity for private information. For instance, if you're working on most of your documents on your computers at work, you could consider using a secure cloud-based system instead to facilitate collaboration and keep information safe.
How Will You Stay Connected?
It's important for remote workers to stay connected to the office, especially when they're out of the office for most or all of the time. While the plan may differ for each individual, you need to have an overall strategy for keeping your remote workers connected. Do you have an in-office meeting every two weeks? Is there a regular online call for all staff? Trello recommends that you use the same technology for all employees, regardless of whether they're in the office or not, since "The folks who are piped in as giant chat heads on a big screen cannot easily distinguish a group of people sitting in a room." This levels the playing field. You'll also need to have a conversation about employees' levels of technological fluency. If they're working from home and dependent on technology to do so, they'll need to be adept at using that technology.
How Will You Ensure Consistency of Service?
You may have different work times and different work locations, but you must be able to trust your remote employees to provide the same consistent service as the rest of your team. This makes hiring for cultural fit even more important since you won't overhear these employees say something and correct them. You could choose to train someone in-house and then allow them to work remotely. Talk to your prospective remote workers about:
How they plan to manage their time and check in about project demands and deadlines
How they envision juggling short-term demands and long-term workflows with the team
How they have stayed focused on work projects at home in the past
What Benefits Will It Bring to My Team?
Having a flexible workplace can be very beneficial to your team. You could have lower staff turnover or attract highly skilled professionals who also need to be home part-time or live in a more remote area.
At American Agents Alliance, our members are independent insurance agencies just like yours. We understand your challenges, and we've created solutions for them. From networking to opportunities for posting insurance jobs and agency purchases, we're here to be a resource for you. Contact us today for more information about our many membership benefits.