Tag: Corporate-COVID-19

Work from Home: 3 Underrated Impacts We Should Be Talking About | Blog

When COVID-19 pushed millions around the world to work from home, little focus was given at the time of urgency to the longer-term impacts if the practice continued post-pandemic. Work from Home (WFH) is here to stay, but what effect is it truly having on the environment, society and families, and individuals? To learn more about the less obvious repercussions of this new work model, read on.

COVID-19 impetus   

COVID-19 accelerated a workplace experiment that had struggled to gain traction before the pandemic. As we emerge from the immediate crisis, global companies are increasingly clarifying their stance on the future of WFH.

Some are more bullish about sustaining a scaled WFH model than others. Many organizations are contemplating hybrid delivery models for the long term. Google CEO Sundar Pichai agrees on the importance of incorporating remote working. But other sectors such as the financial industry have a different take, with Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon calling WFH “an aberration.”

While some organizations flourished during WFH with reported cost savings and productivity increases, others had issues below the surface as we previously reported in our blog post on Future of Work From Home in GBS Organizations – Separating Hype from Reality.

Impacts to pay attention to

The indelible impact of WFH on the environment, society and families, and individuals cannot be downplayed as it affects not only the current workforce but also future generations. Let’s take a look at how these three critical areas have been altered – both positively and negatively.

  • The environment

Transportation, especially business travel and commuting, plays an oversized role when we talk about the environmental impact of remote working models. The lack of commuting reduces fossil fuel usage, leading to reductions in greenhouse emissions, air pollution, and the Scope 3 carbon footprint. Another positive for the environment is the significant reduction of paper and plastic usage in offices.

On the other hand, as we previously reported, virtual meetings require large amounts of data that need greater power. This puts huge energy demands on data centers that power the internet and could partially offset the positives.

Other aspects are a mixed bag of positive and negative impacts. Before the pandemic, the lighting, cooling, or heating generally ran at all times in an office building. Individuals working at home will likely use less energy as they tend to be responsible about energy usage as the onus of power bills is on them.

However, one can argue that the power used by individual homes could be collectively higher than offices using well-designed zonal heating and cooling. Another impact to consider is that the WFH model could duplicate enabling equipment (such as external monitors, keyboards, and printers, etc.), which could offset the positives to some extent.

  • Society and families

 WFH has opened up employment opportunities for those who have challenges working in traditional environments, directly improving diversity and inclusivity in organizations and potentially reducing social inequalities in the long term.

Remote working, for example, has enabled organizations that have not yet made their workplaces accessible for people with disabilities to hire these individuals. It also has allowed companies to improve inclusivity by providing opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds for whom office location and delivery models have been obstacles.

Further, WFH can help organizations retain workers who have young children they are caring for at home, as household responsibilities are more redistributed today and both partners play a greater role in upbringing children. The flexibility of work from home also can benefit employees in single-parent households in juggling competing priorities of work and child care.

WFH has also allowed employees living in expensive tier-1 cities to move to lower-cost areas and return to their hometowns, providing the benefits of more time with family and social circles along with cost savings. With the pandemic impacting older adults more severely, work from home has allowed adult children to provide much needed support.

On the other hand, remote working has led many people, particularly the marginalized, to feel excluded and left out. A majority of women have reported a negative impact of WFH due to increased household responsibilities and disruption of work-life balance attributed to traditional gender roles.

The social aspects of interacting at work with many different individuals also have been diminished, limiting the development of employee’s social skills and organizational culture. The virtual environment has made it more difficult for people from under-represented groups to be visible and have their voices heard.

Online networking in discussion groups and forums has been a positive social outlet but tends to favor employees with digital skills and an existing large network base.

Another challenge is the increasing numbers of individuals hired during the pandemic who have never met their colleagues in person. While companies are taking new initiatives to solidify peer connections and foster team collaboration with remote workforces, this is a difficult road that will need concerted, ongoing efforts.

  • Individuals

Of all the aspects addressed so far, the impact on an individual is, by far, the most understated. While employees found the WFH model flexible and enjoyable during its early days, most of them have now reported fatigue and tiredness with the model.

Employees feel a negative impact of remote working on their physical well-being, including weight gain and musculoskeletal problems. Those who walked or biked to their jobs or during breaks are no longer getting this exercise. Lockdowns also restricted other physical activities they may have done outside work. Using non-ergonomic furniture like sofas and beds to work also has had negative health consequences.

WFH has had a profound impact on the mental well-being of employees who have difficulties separating work-home boundaries and managing their workloads with irregular long hours. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has commented that online meetings can make employees tired as well as make the transition from work to private life hard, saying, “Work from home feels like sleeping at work.”

Employees are increasingly complaining of sluggish cognitive performance, commonly dubbed as “pandemic brain,” which arises from long periods in isolation. Increasingly, more employees are facing changes in sleep patterns, difficulty in stopping working, increased distractions, and greater work anxiety.

The negative impact of WFH varies across groups but seems to have disproportionately affected the disadvantaged, although a certain amount of this could be attributed to the pandemic and lockdown isolation.

The ability of each individual to cope with the changes has largely depended on the degree of their social and peer connections and support from their organizations. Employees of proactive organizations who have actively supported their mental health have adapted well to their new WFH environment, with improved performance and productivity.

Future of work  

While WFH has been a big success out of necessity, organizations need to adopt a pragmatic approach as they strategically re-think the future of work. WFH is not going away. We expect companies to use different variations and combinations to create their own version of a WFA – Work from Anywhere model.

By going beyond a mere tactical approach and getting their hybrid model right, organizations will realize the benefits that WFH can bring of higher productivity, optimized costs, a loyal and diversified workforce, and a stronger cultural fabric.

How are you dealing with these softer, yet unignorable, impacts of WFH? Reach out to [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected] to share perspectives.

COVID-19 Taught Life and Pension Insurers That Change Must Come, Complexity Must Go | Press Release

COVID-19 forced L&P Insurers to simplify operations and drastically reduce their reliance on manual interactions and complex, paper-based processes; modernization of IT and digitalization are among key investments being made in 2021 to future-proof the industry.

Overall, the life and pension (L&P) insurance industry held steady in 2020, showing sufficient resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to Everest Group, COVID-19 undeniably made one significant impact on L&P insurers: they were forced to recognize the need for change and innovation.

The L&P insurance industry is known for being complex and compliance heavy. The challenges brought by the pandemic underscored for L&P insurers the inefficiency of reliance on manual interactions and paper-based, fragmented processes. As a result, many insurers are looking to simplify their operating models by investing in the following initiatives:

  1. Efficient capital management through divestitures: Most L&P insurers have a great deal of capital tied up in capital-intensive products such as guaranteed products and legacy blocks. Adding the high maintenance costs of disparate legacy systems, the capital that could be allocated to new innovation investments remains insufficient. Thus, proper capital management is the need of the hour, and many insurers have divested out of capital-intensive businesses or legacy blocks to free up resources and, in some cases, reduce debt.
  2. Expansion into strategic growth markets: Leading L&P insurers across the board are simplifying their geographical portfolio strategies and focusing on the markets that they consider lucrative in the long term, rather than stretching themselves too thin.
  3. Product alignment and innovation: Customers have become more aware of the importance of life insurance and retirement planning; however, they want to be offered more relevant products that are suitably customized to their specific needs and stage of life. Insurers also realize that only protection or coverage is not enough; value-added services such as financial wellbeing advisory are becoming more important than before.
  4. IT modernization: L&P insurers’ technology infrastructure remains a key shortcoming when it comes to innovation. L&P insurers largely rely on an IT and data architecture that is legacy, inflexible, and complex to navigate. Work environment changes during the pandemic forced insurers to provision a more flexible and remotely enabled IT landscape, and leading insurers are now concertedly taking other corrective measures as well.
  5. Digitalization of processes and channels: COVID-19 thwarted insurers’ usual manual and paper-reliant processes and drove a surge in online customer traffic, forcing insurers to quicken the pace of digital adoption. Digitalization is not only important for end-customers, but also for improving the productivity and efficacy of other stakeholders, such as agents, brokers and employees.

To achieve these strategic priorities, many insurers turn to the outsourcing ecosystem. Most of the large carriers already have outsourcing relationships with business process services (BPS) providers, so it is small-sized carriers that are creating new activity. Everest Group estimates the growth rate of the L&P Insurance BPS market at 4-6% for 2019 to 2020 and projects growth could accelerate to as high as 9% by 2022.

These findings and more are shared in Everest Group’s recently published report, “Life and Pensions (L&P) Insurance BPS State of the Market Report 2021: Insurers’ Complex Journeys to Simplification.” This report provides a comprehensive picture of the key investment trends in the L&P insurance outsourcing market across various dimensions and includes Everest Group’s L&P Insurance BPO Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment of service providers for 2020.

***Download a complimentary abstract of the report here.***

About Everest Group
Everest Group is a research firm focused on strategic IT, business services, engineering services, and sourcing. Our clients include leading global companies, service providers, and investors. Clients use our services to guide their journeys to achieve heightened operational and financial performance, accelerated value delivery, and high-impact business outcomes. Details and in-depth content are available at http://www.everestgrp.com

Improve Productivity by Getting Better at Being Better | Blog

Companies spend time getting work done. Leaders focus attention on getting through the backlog and responding to today’s challenges. Teams focus on executing the work. Leaders evaluate teams on whether they completed the work, the quality of the work, whether it was timely, whether it pleased customers and whether it drove the desired results. Almost all energy and time in the company focuses on these factors. But we do not spend enough time on getting better at doing all that.

Read more on my blog on Forbes

How To Manage Employees In A Work-From-Home Distributed Environment | Blog

The COVID-19 crisis, which sent most white-collar workers to work from home, changed the way people work. Over the past few months, it proved viable and even advantageous in many respects. We now face a permanent shift in how work is performed. It will be in a far more distributed environment than we ever anticipated. Therefore, we now we must deal with management and operational constraints at the company and the personal level so we can ensure the desired organizational performance.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

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