Covid-19 Resilience Survey 2: Two-thirds of insurance staff are not keen to return to the office, while 90% are anxious about using public transport

Person working on a laptop at home

The majority of insurance staff feel worried or anxious about a return to the office environment, while 90% of those surveyed had major concerns about using public transport to get there a survey by Post has found.

Asked for their feelings about a return to work in an office environment, two-thirds of respondents to Post’s second Resilience Survey either used phrases such as ‘very uncomfortable’, and ‘nervous’ or added caveats about what would make them feel better including ‘as long as protective measures in place’ and ‘with social distancing/testing in place’.  

Some stated that they would prefer not to return at all or can’t see a valid reason for return to work: “I see no reason to go in until the threat has passed as I can attend meetings remotely” and “We have proven that we are just as, if not more, productive working from home – so I would question the need to return to pre- Covid-19 working practices. Working in an office environment seems unnecessary.”

Respondents were also asked for their feelings about a return to public transport and almost 90% (86.87%) raised concerns about using public transport. Responses included the words ‘anxious’ and ‘uncomfortable’ and some added they would would avoid where possible and consider wearing personal protective equipment.

However, many acknowledged a return to working the same office hours as pre-lockdown might come as early as September (28.3%) and almost the same amount (26.8%) predicted the return would be between November this year and February 2021. A quarter of respondents (25.4%) felt that they would never return to their pre-lockdown working hours in the office.

When asked about returns to face-to-face work-related events over three-quarters (78.3%) felt it would be between September this year and February 2021.

However, more than half of respondents responded in the negative about their feeling towards returning to client meetings, with many respondents including the words ‘anxious’, ‘apprehensive’, and ‘not keen’ in their responses.

Several felt that face-to-face meetings might be less necessary post-Covid as remote working has proved so successful. One said it was “unnecessary with video conferencing facilities” and another added “I see no reason to have to attend face-to-face client meetings until the threat has passed”.

Post conducted its first Resilience Survey in late March to find out how the sector was adapting to this new way of working. It revealed the ability for employers to handle staff wellbeing, especially mental health, and manage business if staff numbers are significantly reduced due to sickness, were the most pressing concerns. However, the majority were confident they could perform their day jobs at home. 

As the situation continues Post revisited the survey with slightly updated questions to reflect changes to government guidance. Comprising eight questions the survey went live on 5 May and closed on 14 May, 137 insurance professionals completed the survey.  

Since March almost all staff are now working remotely with those firms requiring all staff to work remotely increasing to 70.3% (March 53.8%) and the number of those operating with a skeleton staff remaining in the office environment dropping to 28.3% (March 43.3%). Only one quarter of respondents said any staff had been furloughed – 9.4% said staff had been furloughed but they didn’t know how many and 10.1% said up to 14% of staff were furloughed. When broken down by company type the data revealed that 18.24% of the respondents who said their firm has furloughed staff were brokers. Of the brokers that had furloughed staff over one-third (36%) had furloughed between 1% and 14% of staff.

Confidence levels have increased since March with 68.8% being very confident they could perform their day-to-day role at home and an additional 26.8% being confident.

Confidence has also risen in respondent’s feelings on their firms’ abilities to handle business challenges working remotely. Over 90% (91.2%) are confident they can now meet external customers’ needs and confidence in regulatory compliance rose to 87.7%. Areas which fared less well in the March report also saw increased levels of confidence with 76.8% now confident challenges of reduced staff numbers due to health/sickness would be addressed (March figure 57.8%) and 60.9% now confident or very confident that staff wellbeing was being addressed (March figure 53.1%).

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