Being Prepared for the Unknown

Posted by Ed Purcell on August 10, 2020

At Armada Risk Partners, we are always evolving. We may not always know all the answers, but we know where to find them — for ourselves and our clients. And this once-in-a-century pandemic we’re now experiencing has made that learning orientation — and ability to be extremely flexible — all the more crucial.

Recently, we shared some of what we have learned about communicating during the coronavirus emergency. Now, I want to share what we’ve learned from the sudden transition to a virtual environment.

Virtual Work Took Some Adjustments

Like most companies forced to convert to virtual work at home, we found that it’s possible, though with a few crucial adjustments.

Shortly before the government’s shelter in place order went into effect, we saw the writing on the wall, and quickly decided to have the staff work remotely. The management team made a calculated decision that the health and comfort of our employees was worth a possible loss in productivity.

Besides, recent research by the highly respected Gallup organization shows remote employees are more productive than is widely understood. But in the end, it was more about having faith in our people.

Good Infrastructure Helps

It helped that our technical infrastructure was already well ahead of the curve. Our cloud-based software helped ensure that we could handle our data remotely, in a thoroughly secure environment.

All our internal information—from shared files to our management information system—is fully accessible by smartphone. Every employee has a Microsoft Surface device, and our phone system is fully integrated with our cell phones, and all client files and shared company documents are in the cloud, so the “office” can literally be anywhere without any loss in access to information or resources.

Still, having your entire staff working from home is not without its challenges. For us, they include:

  • Ensuring that absenteeism doesn’t rise. We found that higher engagement guards against that.

  • Many employees had to upgrade their Wi-Fi capabilities to achieve bandwidth sufficient for completing their normal tasks.

  • Making sure that home office set-ups were sufficient to meet work demands, including printers with high-resolution.

In some cases, that meant reimbursing employees who had to supplement their home offices.

In the end, what we heard from our staff is that our operation mostly hadn’t skipped a beat. In fact, some felt that our efficiency had actually improved by going virtual. Employee morale was helped by having more time with family and less expense from the commute.

The current pandemic may ultimately convince many employers to remain virtual, or at least increase their flexibility regarding staff location.

Like most organizations, we’re taking things month by month, understanding how fluid the situation is. Our employees are now working in the office two days a week and working remotely three days a week. Flexibility is the new normal.  But we’re prepared for anything, and confident that, wherever we happen to be working, as an organization we are well-positioned to assist clients for as long as this pandemic lasts.

How did your organization respond? Is flexibility important, and is it provided? For any more insight or how we may help your company or organization, please call one of our experts at 216-350-5050
 

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About the author Ed Purcell

Ed Purcell leads the employee benefits consulting arm of Cleveland-based Armada Risk Partners, an all risk insurance brokerage. As a Senior Vice President and founder, he focuses his counsel on assisting small and middle market employers when developing and executing innovative and cost-efficient employee benefit strategies.