IE Comment; At the start of the lockdown many speculated that once employees – especially those based in London – tried working from home full-time, they would love it. Instead of spending three hours a day crammed into trains, Tube or buses, plus paying up to 5K a year for the privilege, employees can wake up, get online, do their job and sign off for time with family and friends without all the stress and expense.
Make no mistake, this announcement from Direct Line is a landmark, as it offers real choice. Once enough people make the choice to avoid London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and many more places, office rents will naturally drop, as more office leases are not renewed in 2021.
Salaries can also decrease as employers no longer have to foot a £5,000 a year commuting bill. Without an army of office workers to feed at lunchtimes the sandwich and snack vendors in city centres are going to have to re-think their offer. Plus, Commercial insurance is changing forever as offices and shops gradually vanish from bigger city centres – what are we going to do with empty office space, new apartments?
These are interesting times. Brace yourself. Here’s the word from Direct Line;
Direct Insurance Group, a global speciality insurance business based in Lime Street, is the first insurance group to formally commit to a remote working policy for all staff permanently, following the Coronavirus lockdown.
All staff within its business who want to work from home, can continue to do so indefinitely after the lockdown finishes. The Group will continue to maintain its eight offices located in UK, Europe and North America and will remain headquartered in London, but from the end of the lockdown, staff will have the choice of office, homeworking or a combination of both, based on business and personal needs.
David Bearman, Chief Executive Officer for Direct Insurance Group comments: “I’m excited and delighted to be the first insurance company to formally announce this. Embracing remote working permanently is primarily about the wellbeing of our staff and we have seen how effective ‘working-from-home’ can be.
Over the last nine weeks our group has not merely survived the lockdown, we’ve actually thrived. Our staff have saved money and countless hours by skipping the daily commute; time that is now spent learning, innovating, exercising, connecting and collaborating. For many there is also more time left over at the end of the day for friends, family and leisure. That is all against a backdrop of financials that show we are 26% up in terms of enquiries since we started remote working mid-March.
“In many ways this period of working from home has been a natural extension of our existing culture; we’ve always focussed on ‘outcomes’ rather than how much time people spend at their desk. We employ good people and trust them to do a good job.”
In April Direct Insurance Group also launched a new innovative employee wellbeing benefits package for all staff within the group. This provides an extended ‘full-pay’ maternity and paternity package to parents-to-be, free weekly gym and personal training sessions, nutritional and wellbeing classes (all available online and via videoconference during lockdown, and now in perpetuity). Female staff now receive full pay for the first six months of maternity leave, with male employees entitled to two months fully paid paternity leave.
David Bearman concludes: “Covid-19 has had tragic consequences for many families across the globe. It’s also changed the way we live and work, and at DIG we are embracing this change to improve the wellbeing of our staff. There’s very little reason to return to the way things used to be before the outbreak. Whichever way you look at it it’s clear that this is the way forward and I’ve no doubt other insurance companies will soon follow suit.”