Bettina Dietsche, chief operating and people officer at Allianz, shared her experience of working arrangements during Covid-19, including a look to the future, during the final day of the annual GVNW Symposium.
Ms Dietsche began by acknowledging that Covid-19 had provided a steep learning curve for all. Projects that had been scheduled over a number of years were suddenly completed in a matter of weeks.
Allianz quickly had to send its staff home to work remotely in March 2020, and found that the new working arrangement was a success, she said.
Nevertheless, although the work was being done, Ms Dietsche pointed out that “employee bonding and culture” aspect also needed due attention.
Allianz therefore sees a hybrid model of working from home and going to the office as the best way to move forward.
Ms Dietsche said: “Our flexible approach is team-based and not prescriptive.” In other words, the teams decide the home/office split themselves on the basis of operational needs.
She said that this hybrid arrangement is beneficial in a number of ways, for example it negates the need for a lot of business travel, which is costly and bad for the environment.
It is also an important factor in attracting young talent. People entering the workforce now expect this level of flexibility.
Ms Dietsche also noted that there is no downside to this arrangement. It just means that “work is judged on performance and results as opposed to time spent in the office”.
Experience at Allianz since the pandemic struck last year has shown that the employees can be trusted to act responsibly when working remotely. Ms Dietsche said: “We had to trust people and it worked.”
She concluded by outlining what she sees as the key criteria for maintaining an effective hybrid working model. The first is technology as an enabler. “It’s important to embrace technology and exploit what it has to offer,” she said.
The second is for staff to use their time in the office to interact, for example with spontaneous exchanges, brainstorming and mingling in open office spaces. This will preserve the human aspect of work.
Finally, Ms Dietsche talked about the need for insurers to remain attractive to prospective employees. That means following this hybrid work trend and aiming to obtain the best results from it.
Although remote working, at least in its current form, wasn’t actually planned, it has already proved its worth. So, now insurers need to integrate the new status quo and aim to turn it into a competitive advantage.