From road warriors to take-up rates, here are five emerging trends that could become permanent even when the pandemic subsides.
The coronavirus forced a near-overnight shift in how workers do their jobs. Virtual meetings, telecommuting, a boom in remote tech—these things all became part of the everyday workplace reality in a flash.
I work with a range of business owners in the insurance industry, from one-man shop independent agents and brokers to larger firms. While responses to where and how people work have certainly varied, here are five clear trends I believe will become permanent changes once the pandemic subsides:
1) Putting the brakes on road warriors. Pre-pandemic, many insurance industry road warriors routinely traveled the bulk of each week to get in front of clients and partners. I envision companies weighing multiple considerations before giving agents license to travel again, as well as curtailing travel when it's not absolutely necessary.
Beyond the health and safety concerns involved with travel, companies are pumping the brakes on unnecessary travel expenses as they continue to adapt to current business conditions.
2) Expanding first-hand touchpoints with new audiences. There's still an argument for the effectiveness of in-person sales meetings, but the pandemic has opened the lines of communication for the entire organization. Where maybe one or two people might be in an in-person meeting, a virtual meeting allows multiple people to participate.
3) Examining operations with an eye for efficiency. Because of the lessons learned from the pandemic, employees across the industry will be more attuned to making workflows efficient, resulting in arguably a more impactful operation.
Everyone will triage the importance of certain meetings, and some clients will prefer to permanently meet electronically. I, among everyone else in the industry, have seen a boom in technology uptake, which is helping employees work efficiently while remote. We've also seen even the most camera-shy professionals become more comfortable with video conferencing—another big barrier to adoption in the past.
4) Boosting take-up rates. The changes forced on businesses by COVID-19 could increase insurance take-up rates, especially in an area like flood insurance where the new norms may reduce prices and increase the ease of transactions.
What's more, if there is one major lesson from the pandemic, it is to expect the unexpected. Assessing and addressing risk—whether for businesses or homeowners—is top of mind as people strive to mitigate the potential impact of controllable surprises.
5) Forcing modernization. Some insurance agencies and brokers welcomed the change necessitated by the pandemic; others resisted altering their normal mode of operation. Agencies that shied away from digital quickly had to change their tune, embrace hosting their mandatory Monday morning meetings on Zoom, and update technology infrastructure from computer towers to laptops.
Regardless of how accepting a company was of the digital transition, the pandemic has certainly forced those who were behind to catch up or risk the efficacy of their business.
Coronavirus has followed us into 2021. However, there is great value in some of the changes we've seen. For those willing to be adaptable and flexible, great opportunity and growth can come of it.
Chad Levine is executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Aon Programs.