Claims comes to terms with a hybrid working world
Since Covid-19 first emerged, with lockdowns soon becoming a persistent fact of life, a pre-existing trend towards some degree of remote working massively accelerated. Today, there’s a broad-based consensus that some degree of hybrid working is likely here to stay. The claims teams who coped best with the disruptions brought on by the pandemic were those whose thinking around remote or hybrid working was furthest advanced – and those with the technology around them to put that thinking into practice.
In theory, at least, working effectively from somewhere other than an established daily place of work is already entirely possible for the vast majority of white-collar workforces. This is something technology firms like DOCOsoft have long recognised. Minimising, if not entirely eliminating, the limitations of physical location is an objective that’s built into our development processes. Our teams in London, Dublin, and Japan were already working seamlessly pre-pandemic, and we now have colleagues in Poland, India, Spain and Portugal – though, clearly, time differences still remain when space has been taken out of the equation. We completed the entire transition of one new client’s claims operation from their old platform to DOCOsoft’s at digital arm’s length. All things are possible with the right technology.
But that’s enough about us. Putting aside the question of whether, and to what extent, off-site working in a claims environment is a desirable thing in itself, rather than simply something (re)insurers need to be ready to implement if required, there’s no denying that there are valid concerns around its potential drawbacks. Claims teams are by no means always the best funded aspects of (re)insurers’ operations, but they do play a mission-critical role and can’t afford to risk compromised performance. In the absence of sufficiently advanced technology, physical proximity to other claims people – and to underwriters, finance teams and senior management – starts feeling like a non-negotiable necessity.
At DOCOsoft, our whole philosophy revolves around enabling claims people to focus on those aspects of their roles where they add the most value – and applying technology to take care of all the bits in between and to maximise claims people’s ability to add that value rapidly, efficiently, and with all the relevant data at their fingertips.
It’s only natural then, that we find it easy to see how technology can enable claims people to work in different, maybe better ways. As outright specialists in claims, we have a pretty good understanding of how claims teams work. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to start telling anyone how to do their job. We can advise, based on our broad perspective across the claims landscape, but we’re not the ones on the ground providing that crucial human input. So, we’ll always do a lot of listening before we speak.
Yes, our clients have found they were able to carry on operating while some or all of their claims people were working from home. Yes, some reported improved, rather than impaired, productivity. Some even reported that claims people felt more connected to the whole organisation rather than just the people they work with day to day – and that claims teams split between multiple locations functioned more effectively together. But valid concerns persist.
One of the things claims professionals worry about in the context of hybrid working is losing some of the informal transfer of knowledge that naturally happens when people share physical space with members of their own and other teams. Will reduced proximity erode team members’ ability to assimilate technical skills and knowledge? Will it compromise up-skilling and cross-skilling – for joiners or for newer team members in particular? Certainly, we have the technology to keep teams talking and sharing knowledge while physically apart. But is there a crucial difference between literally calling a colleague over to share your screen and sharing that screen online? There’s no inherent reason why the virtual experience should prove less effective. But remote collaboration does require the right technology and the right communication and training provision around its use.
Claims directors and managers also need to consider issues around how managing a hybrid team differs from managing one that’s office-based full time – specifically in terms of allocating workload, assessing performance and behaviours, and instilling a consistent and appropriate culture. Controls and processes may well need to be updated to reflect new, hybrid ways of working. But none of this is insurmountable. Many of our clients are already some way through the process of adjustment to a hybridised approach – and positive about its impact. We’re responding by adapting existing tools and applications and developing new ones to help our clients maximise the benefits and mitigate the challenges that come with hybrid working.
Suddenly, we’ve all found ourselves transported – to a great or lesser extent – into the distance-neutral future of work that’s been so long predicted but seemed to be so slow to materialise. The pace of change will only increase. Newer technologies like AI and machine learning are dramatically transforming what is possible, while the availability of ever more data presents challenges as well as opportunities. Market changes like those brought on by Future at Lloyd’s and regulatory realignment in the wake of Brexit will only amplify this effect. The carriers whose claims teams move fastest and smartest to adjust to change and to benefit from it will enjoy a clear competitive advantage.
To find out how DOCOsoft can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org