Insurance Day Podcast: Finding the perfect WFH balance
Covid forced the market to adapt quickly to remote working
In a conversation with Matthew Fosh, executive chairman at the Optio Group, Insurance Day attempts to figure out the best ratio of remote to in-office working
Historically, the Lloyd's underwriting room has been a bustling place where waiters carrying coffee trays scampered around brokers and underwriters conducting business on crowded wooden benches. Brokers would wait hours to speak to the right underwriter, and business deals were regularly celebrated with lunches at restaurants around the corner.
These days the physical activity on the ground floor of the Lime Street building is an anaemic version of what it once was.
When Covid hit, business that had long been conducted in person was shuttered away behind the screen of Zoom calls as new insurtech and communications firms scrambled to find quick solutions to keep the industry up and running despite a global pandemic.
After a year-and-a-half of closure, in September 2021 Lloyd's informed its employees in its half-year results they would be returning to the office three days a week. The Lloyd's building had previously opened in April of that year for "essential workers" and the underwriting room reopened a month later.
Chief executive, John Neal, wrote in a statement: "Colleagues across the corporation and market successfully adapted to the new virtual ways of working and our digital capabilities stood up well; enabling customers to access cover and recover from loss."
Although many employees in the insurance industry have returned to the underwriting room and their offices throughout the City, remote work has become part of the new norm. Recruiters, stuck in a fierce competition for talent, boast of their company's flexible work schemes in ways that would not have been imaginable before the pandemic.
Matthew Fosh, executive chairman at the Optio, tells Insurance Day this trend of moving towards remote work was slowly underway even before Covid proved that working from home can sometimes be just as efficient as pulling a 9 to 5 in the office. The question now, however, is what is the golden ratio of remote to in-office work, and what price can any company afford to put on a loss of human connection if too many people stay home and never meet up with their colleagues.