Insurance Agency Remote Work Plans
Telework or telecommute are fancy words for working from home or remotely by using the internet, email, and mobile devices.
Global Workplace Analytics states, “Though often used interchangeably, ‘telework’ is defined as the substitution of technology for travel, while telecommuting is more narrowly defined as the substitution of technology for commuter travel. Thus if someone takes work home after being at the office it is considered telework but not telecommuting, and if someone works at home instead of driving to an office they are telecommuting.” Note that these words are used less in favor of terms like “working from home” and “working remotely”.
Not surprisingly, working from home or remotely has increased by 173% since 2005, and that doesn’t even include those who are self-employed.
More businesses have remote workers or at least have remote work programs or guidelines in place because employees value flexible work schedules now more than ever. Plus, more businesses have the tools to do so now.
Global Workplace Analytics reported that 80% of people would like to work from home or remotely at least part time. Further, 56% of people have a job that is compatible with working remotely due to the internet.
Insurance agents meet clients, do paperwork, and collaborate with others in the office, but they’re also already an industry who has always done at least some remote work (like on-site client meetings). Does your agency have the option to work from home or remotely at least part of the time?
Beyond giving employees what they value (flexible schedules and work spaces), having a remote work program and guidelines in place ensures your business is flexible and can continue business as usual no matter what happens.
If your agency doesn't yet have a plan in place for employees to work remotely, check out the following tactics (summarized below) from IndependentAgent.com for “Creating a Successful Remote Work Program”.
These steps will help your agency think through what guidelines you'd like to put in place for your unique remote work program.
Creating a Successful Remote Work Program
- Consider who on your team could work from home part or full time. Depending on their position (and their preference), they might be a good candidate for working remotely.
- Decide whether your agency wants to participate in part-time and/or full-time remote working. Each agency is different, and maybe only introducing part-time is best for your employees to transition to at first.
- Create guidelines for who on your team has enough experience and agency knowledge to be considered for a flexible working arrangement. For instance, agents just starting out might need to be in the office for awhile in case they have questions for a colleague while on a call with a prospect or client. But, an experienced agent who’s been with the agency for awhile might be a good candidate for flexible work.
- Identify any new technology you’ll need to accommodate remote work like Instant Messaging services, video calling services like Skype, and GoToMeeting for client or team meetings on the web.
- Create guidelines for each type of remote work option you offer. Laying out expectations from the beginning will help you communicate with the team what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
- Start off the transition with a “trial” group. Identify a few candidates who you think would be ideal for a flexible/remote working situation and let them try it out. Get their feedback after a few weeks and see what changes need to be made before rolling it out to the entire team.
- Meet with the entire team to discuss the flex-work arrangements, your guidelines, and what constitutes eligibility. If applicable, have managers of each department then speak privately with the members of their group to determine their interest level in the new arrangement.
- Train the staff on any new technology you implement. Doing this together increases buy-in and will help everyone get used to new ways of doing things.
- Evaluate the program as you go. Always be willing to make changes and communicate, communicate, communicate. If your staff hasn’t had any experience with flexible or remote work, this will be a big change—hopefully one they enjoy, but still a big change.
I’d like to add one more final thing to consider when implementing a flex/remote work policy: host a monthly, or at least quarterly, all-team meeting. Getting everyone together for lunch and to discuss successes is important to keep the team close when some staff might be working from home part-time or full-time. This provides a time for the team to get together face-to-face and discuss larger initiatives or to simply catch up with one another.
Is Your CRM/AMS Mobile-Friendly?
Another important item to consider when deciding if working remotely is possible for your staff is whether or not your CRM or agency management system (AMS) is mobile friendly. If it isn’t, it's a lot more difficult for agents and staff to access information remotely and continue being as productive as they would be in the office.
AgencyBloc is an AMS built for life and health insurance agencies that is mobile friendly. You can access your book of business from anywhere with an internet connection on any device. You don’t even need to download an app; the application simply responds to screen size and adjusts accordingly.
If you're ready to take your agency mobile (or at least have a plan in place for situations it becomes necessary), make sure your AMS supports you!
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To view the mobile capabilities of AgencyBloc and see if it might be a good fit for your agency, start a free trial now.
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This blog was originally published on December 15th, 2016. It has been updated and republished as of March 17th, 2020.