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Spotlight: Future of work - value your employees, your customers, and reap the benefits for your business


None of us were prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic, with few of us believing it possible, and the changes we’ve seen in society as a result may see permanent changes to the way we work and live in the future writes Paul O'Sullivan, head of commercial sector at Hitachi Solutions Europe.

Many of the changes this year have been driven by actions that have been taken by the governments around the world to try to contain the outbreak and prevent our health services being overwhelmed.  Lockdown was implemented to restrict people interacting and the impact on some business sectors such as retail has been enormous, grinding to a halt due to the government restrictions. The real reason for the actions is, of course, to protect the people and reduce deaths to a minimum; the lives of people must be the priority for a government or business.

The impact to the insurance industry required every company to take on change project of sorts to address the need to protect employees, ensure customers are served well and ultimately protect the business. The restrictions on movement and interactions continue to change, requiring ongoing adaptation, but the level of innovation to deal with these new rules of working has been very impressive, particularly with the rate of change that has been achieved.

A terribly challenging human crisis has resulted in innovation and productivity beyond our expectations. The benefits seen include: leadership teams have learned they can trust their employees to be productive; employees have adapted to the remote ways of working very quickly; Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other tools are now common knowledge and digital business transformation has become an even greater priority.

Will anyone ever return to the office?  

Prior to Covid, many employees looked at homeworkers with envy and dreamed of the luxury of working from home. Many of those dreamers have seen the benefits and the downsides; life is not always better on the other side and they long to get back to the office.

This is the question that is on many minds and the answer is yes for many, but for some the change may be permanent. However, there has been a definite need for the insurance industry to get people back to the office.

Valuing the customer has always been the key to success if a business wanted to build a loyal and long-lasting brand. The demands within the insurance industry existed before the pandemic with increasing competition from insurtech start-ups and non-traditional Insurance businesses. Customers expected more and have more choice than ever, and they still do. The priority for any business must be the customer and fulfilling the needs of the customer is the reason the business exists. Without customers, a business has no purpose.

Business transformation is now top of the agenda

One of the benefits from these challenging times is the innovation that has been widespread.  There is now a general acceptance of change, the acceptance that it can happen more quickly than previously thought, and that Insurers were vulnerable with the old ways of working. The restrictions of lockdown have led to an acceptance of the benefits of new cloud technologies and the need to connect people digitally has become a priority that will lead to further transformations in businesses post-Covid.

A transformational trend with insurers that employ a network of brokers/agents is the need to not only understand the relationship better, and to use automation but to also connect the dots – the employees, business data and the customers. 

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