If you’re feeling a little challenged in setting up your insurance agency’s remote operations to achieve maximum productivity, you’re not alone – business managers and workers the world over are facing a sudden new work reality. Renaissance Alliance Chief Technology Officer Michael Freilich offers a short video with tech tips, tools, and advice to help you set up your agency’s remote operations. You can also find a transcript with links to services that he mentions below the video.
Remember, if you are an agency member of Renaissance Alliance, you have access to our tech Help Desk. And you can follow Michael on Twitter at @M_Freilich for more tech tips and trends.
I’m Michael Freilich, Chief Technology Officer at Renaissance and I wanted to share some ideas with you about how to continue operating in a productive way as we all adjust our routines to remote working. This disruption of our personal and professional lives creates lots of opportunities to think creatively about our operations. I’m going to hit on 4 topics around working remotely: the hardware, the software, the importance of measuring outcomes, and some best practices.
The first, and perhaps most critical thing for remote enablement is the hardware:
- Laptops, mobile phones are the obvious key — it’s not always easy to figure out what to buy, and if you have questions feel free to reach out to me and the team.
- Another, perhaps obvious, piece of hardware to consider is a headset or headphones … working hands free is great not only for productivity, but good for blocking out ambient noise when the rest of your family is remote working in the next room.
The second thing is software:
- The starting point is the wonderful cloud-based office solutions from Microsoft and Google. They are amazing for document storage, easily sharing files and collaborating on documents together.
- Video conferencing is now ubiquitous: we use Zoom at Renaissance and it of course has the ability to connect our teams in small or large video calls. But perhaps the feature in this tool comes in sharing your screen with a group so everyone is looking at the same thing. My favorite feature of Zoom is to join a meeting from my iPad, share my iPad screen on the Zoom meeting, and use the Apple Pencil to sketch out ideas for the group on the call. It works brilliantly.
- In addition to Zoom for video conferencing,. there are great collaboration tools like Teams, which is a Microsoft product, and Slack that have all sorts of powerful features to chat, share documents, post announcements, and a video call is a click away.
- Another valuable part of the remote working arsenal is project management and workflow tools like Asana and Trello. At Renaissance we pair Asana with an application called Everhour, and it provides really detailed time tracking and reporting for specific activities.
And this time tracking feature brings me to item #3, which is all about measuring outcomes:
- Remote working can have the reputation of resulting less control or more difficulty managing operations, but it also creates a unique ability to better manage productivity
- Take this opportunity to think through how you measure the output of a team or an individual and add that measurement to the daily routine
- This doesn’t require fancy software and integrations, it just requires a little discussion and expectations setting.
- Schedule recurring meetings for the team to gather and share status updates.
- At Renaissance the technology team has a daily stand-up meeting where, in addition to discussing progress on our key objectives each person on the team spends a few minutes answering 3 questions: what was accomplished yesterday, what are the priorities for today, and what roadblocks need to be addressed. This meeting takes no more than a half hour and It’s perfect for a video call.
The last thing I’ll say is to be inventive:
- Leverage the phone camera for scanning needs and to share ideas
- Use FaceTime in a pinch to get a message across
- Leverage OneDrive or Dropbox or Sharefile to share documents
- It’s easy for all of us to fall into routines. times like this force us to be creative and find new (and indeed sometimes better!) ways to do things.
I suspect that this change in how we work will have lasting effects on our businesses. And there’s no time like the present to figure out what can work best for your organizations.
The most important thing is to try to treat working from home like any other work day. Get up, take a shower, make yourself presentable, and get ready for a day of video calls!
Finally, please stay safe, healthy, and productive as we all navigate these unpredictable times. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or to have a discussion. Take care.
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