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Work from home can be the new normal, post COVID-19

Post the COVID-19 pandemic, the WFH concept will be extensively adopted, if not for all then for certain functions, says Mohit Rochlani, Director – Operations & IT, IndiaFirst Life Insurance

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The conventional BCP plan is designed for a scenario, where the offices (one or many of them belonging to the Insurance companies) are not functional. In that case, how can business as usual be continued with the customers, distributors and the salesforce. “In the current scenario, when due to the 21 day national lockdown, when all establishments are closed, the BCP plans are not made for such a scenario,” says Mohit Rochlani, Director – Operations & IT, IndiaFirst Life Insurance.

IndiaFirst Life Insurance has over 2500 agents, including the ‘feet on street’; the banca channel-network covered is 17,200; overall policy count is approximately 8.5 Lakh with a customer count of close to 7.75 Lakh. The overall employee count is 2800+ and they all have to be covered for work from home (WFH).

How did IndiaFirst Life Insurance cope with the crises ? “We had set up the business from a WFH perspective – both in terms of business processes and customer service,” says Rochlani. The arrangement to WFH was made for a close to thirty percent workforce, which now has to be extrapolated to the entire workforce – over 2800 employees. The two pertinent challenges were – procuring the laptops for employees and making the necessary bandwidth available. “We anticipated the current situation, very early. On March 19. Last week, we initially tested sixty percent WFH and then scaled it up to hundred percent. We were able to procure the necessary laptops in the nick of time. All the necessary laptop procurement was done by the time the national lockdown was announced,” informs Rochlani. In the meantime, the necessary VPN licenses and the bandwidth was also procured.

The underwriting teams, customer service and the investment operations are the three important functions for a life insurance company. They were able to operate in complete sync by the time the lockdown was announced. The company’s operations are ninety eight percent digitised, which helped in weathering the crises. The salesforce enters the customer details on a tablet. The forms are evaluated online by the underwriting team and a decision is taken.

A number of customer service options – IVR, chabot, which is also available on WhatsApp were freshly communicated to the customers. “The 25 seater inbound call centre team was also tested last week for the WFH scenario. They are also operating from home currently,” says Rochalani.

A remote monitoring help desk is operational, tracking the applications; number of VPN networks getting used; bandwidth usage, etc. The collaboration tools being used are office 365 and Microsoft teams. There are about 450 employees, who are using the VPN. The actuarial, IT, products team, employees accessing a shared drive; conducting VC sessions are done over the VPN. 

The investments made recently on the IT infrastructure in the form of adopting private cloud and swift action on laptop and bandwidth procurement helped in adhering to the business continuity plan. There was no blackout period and the operations are as seamless as when they were before the lockdown.

Work from Home as the new normal
Post the COVID-19 pandemic, the WFH concept will be extensively adopted, if not for all then for certain functions”, for example, at India FirstLife Insurance, there are certain underwriters who have been working from home. The allocation of the necessary infrastructure for enabling WFH will be another focus area for companies going forward.  “Companies will think whether it’s worth using the office space and bring people together for certain functions ?,” concludes Rochlani.


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