Which insurer allows the most homeworking?

 

Overview of the practices of the top 10 insurers in Belgium

Brussels is famous for its traffic, and sometimes, going to work can quickly turn into a MadMax remake. Depending on the rankings, the average amount of time lost in traffic jam per year per user was of 174 hours in 2019 ! More than a week of your year was spent stuck in traffic! You could have watched 100 football matches of the Red Devils or knitted 44 hats to keep you warm while walking to work. Or you could have worked from home.

It is not necessary to detail the other benefits of homeworking, besides less commuting, such as: more efficiency, better well-being, more focus, less stress, less strain, and lower absenteeism rate. In Belgium, homeworking has become an important part of the fringe benefits included in the reward package as well as an important upside of corporate policies.

In Belgium, around 22% of workers have at least one day a week of homeworking (according to SPF Mobilité & Transport, 2019), and in Brussels even, 40% of workers (on average) take at least one day of homeworking per week.

 

What about the insurance sector?

Based on feedbacks we have received on the market, and according to the corporate websites that we have consulted, we have determined which insurance company can offer you homeworking and if so, how many days per week.

We selected only the top 10 insurers in Belgium, based on the market share analysis of 2018, which was published in October 2019 by Assuralia.

 

* Since the data analysis by Assuralia covers the year 2018, the information relevant to Fidea is not included as Baloise bought the company only in 2019.

 

As detailed in the ranking, of the top 10, only one insurer does not offer homeworking to its employees. If one takes into consideration the top 15 insurance companies, it seems that more than 71% of the insurance companies in terms of market share offer homeworking flexibility to their employees. As said, it is a strong upside of corporate life, yet, only half of the top 10 insurers advertise it on their corporate page.

 

Flexibility or freedom? Don’t get confused!

When a company offers homeworking to its employees, it usually comes with instructions and best practices. Keeping it safe (to avoid security breach for instance) and professional is essential. In common best practices, not working in your robe is one of them: you could be surprised by a last-minute video-conference meeting! Oopsie!

While investigating, we gathered information on a general framework for a good homeworking experience and what you can expect from your employer:

  • This opportunity is usually offered to employees once they have had time to settle in. For instance, ERGO allows homeworking after the first 6 months within the company, for some it is after a year. In some cases, the manager can take decision when she/he thinks the employee is ready and trustworthy.
  • The possibility to work from home should be in your work contract or added with an amendment, stating how many days per week/year and, if eligible, any additional features you are entitled. Your employer can, for instance, give you a 2nd computer screen or a daily allowance to cover internet and/or electricity expenses.
  • If you are not working full time, the number of days of homeworking will be adapted consequently.
  • Besides homeworking, remote working is also sometimes a possibility. For instance, KBC offers a lot of flexibility: the main offices of KBC Group are situated in Brussels, and they have hubs in other cities of Belgium as well (Ghent, Leuven, Mechelen, Hasselt, Antwerp). Employees working at the group level will generally only have to go one day per week in the main offices and from the other four days they can work two days from home and two days from a local hub.
  • Your employer will ask you to respect a code of good conduct: to be appropriately dressed, to stay in touch with your team members and manager through phone or the intranet direct message system. Your employer also expects you to be working from your home address they have registered for you. If you are doing remote working, you should always ask or warn your manager upfront.

Depending on your manager/department, the digitalization of your company and the sensitivity of the data you are working with, homeworking possibilities can vary.

Not all employees enjoy working from home, but sometimes it is mandatory. Whether it is because you are in quarantine – coming back from a trip along the silk route – or whether you are a victim of Flex Desk, here are a few tips to ease the experience: get dressed, try to create a work space in your home with good natural lightning, stay in touch with your colleagues and have a fixed schedule.

 

How to implement homeworking?

Implementing homeworking or allowing employees to do it more often requires to set up a clear framework.

For instance, when employees are working from home it is not always possible to clock  in, seeing as the system varies from one company to another and most times the system is used to calculate extra hours. Switching to more homeworking days or making homeworking mandatory can have an impact on the ways of calculating extra hours. This is a critical point which can block the evolution towards more flexibility. When AXA Belgium moved to its new offices, with the implementation of a flex desk system, they abandoned the clocking in system, and as a counterpart, they offered one extra day off per year to all of their employees.

While Allianz and Ethias are both relocating in the near future, it is interesting to note that Ethias has not made a final decision as of where they will move, whereas Allianz will have moved in, in the coming months. Will this allow employees to have more homeworking? Or more flexibility? Discussions are still ongoing.

To summarize we can say that most of the insurers offer one or two days of structural homeworking per week. In some companies, supervisors can deviate from this and allow their employees to work from home more often.

Compared to France or Italy, for instance, Belgium is already well advanced on the matter.  Homeworking is now part of the work life routine and is considered an acquired benefit.

 

This article was inspired by Antoine Paglia’s article on remote working for the P&C Italian insurance market.

 

 

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