The number of companies with the majority of their employees working remotely has increased to over 50 percent in the last six years, according to the US Department of Labor.
Additionally, 43 percent of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely in 2016, according to a Gallup poll.
That statistic prompted 15Five, an employee feedback and engagement software provider, to ask 500 managers, supervisors and executives about their experiences with remote workers.
The news was similar: Those surveyed said that productivity and performance improved for 21 percent of the 500 companies surveyed.
What does this mean for the insurance industry?
Can an agency in a small Midwestern town really see the same results from remote workers as a large insurer on the East coast?
The answer, of course, is yes! Moreover, your small agency may also gain a competitive advantage.
Remote workers can be assigned tasks that your current in-house staff handles, freeing their schedules for customer service, marketing, and sales-related efforts.
The Productivity Myth
Yet many companies – agencies and insurers alike – hold on to the notion that remote workers are less productive than 9-to-5 employees.
Yet the 15Five survey as well as other data show otherwise. Not convinced? Just ask remote employees.
According to a survey from employee engagement firm TINYpulse, 91 percent of remote workers say they “get more work done when working remotely.”
And remote workers are actively engaged; 63 percent of employers report being more engaged and communicative with remote employees than with in-house staff.
In fact, for the insurance industry, the benefits are impressive.
A growing remote workforce: 47 percent of workers in insurance, finance and real estate work remotely at least some of the time, up from 39 percent in 2012, a recent Gallup survey shows.
Right-fit workers: 19 percent of employers surveyed say they chose remote workers because they were able to gain access to the best candidates regardless of geographic location, according to 15Five.
Better in-house productivity: By engaging remote workers for daily tasks, or to augment various departments like underwriting, certs or policy issuance, you’re able to free your in-house team’s time to focus on business-growth strategies, sales, marketing, or customer service improvements.
Finding a Great Remote Worker
Yet where can you find remote workers who have insurance industry-specific skills?
That has been one of the bigger reasons the insurance industry has been slow to engage remote workers.
Traditional staffing firms don’t often have insurance talent at the ready, let alone workers with the exact skills you seek.
But there’s another option to traditional staffing solutions.
WAHVE engages veteran insurance pros – we call them “pretirees” – and matches their skills to your needs.
“Pretirees” are looking to remain active in the industry, but may no longer want or need a full-time career. Or they may want to shift gears and work in a niche area.
We’ve found our remote workers to be actively engaged in the work, and happy to continue serving the industry where they spent their careers.
They want to use their knowledge and maintain relevance, even as they transition into retirement.
That’s a benefit to employing remote workers that no other industry has right now, and it’s one that can deliver quite a powerful return on your investment.
Remote workers with the exact skills you need who can enhance your staff’s productivity and improve your competitive advantage?
That’s money in the bank.
How to get started
WAHVE is helping to bridge the gap between insurance agency staffing needs and seasoned professionals’ work-life balance preferences as they phase into retirement.
Learn more about how an experienced remote worker can help you and your staff get more done.
About the author
Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC, is the CEO and founder of Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE), an innovative contract staffing talent solution.
WAHVE matches retiring insurance professionals leaving the regular workforce to insurance firms to meet their full- or part-time staffing needs. Insurance firms benefit by improving productivity and lowering costs. WAHVE’s unique qualifying process and technology platform match the right “pretirees” wherever they may live to the needs of insurance firms wherever they are located.