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Topa Insurance Company (TIC), like most insurance businesses, shifted to a remote workforce out of necessity in 2020. TIC continued to be successful in the new work environment and quickly decided to make the remote workforce move a permanent one.

Executive Summary

Since shifting to a remote work environment, Topa Insurance Company has found that its talent pool has expanded, the company reduced office overhead and its carbon footprint, and employees say they have a better work/life balance. Those are just some of the reasons that COO Denise Pavlov shares for making the transition a permanent one.

March marked a milestone, two years from the transition of an in-office work experience to a permanent work-from-home model. Since the shift, TIC’s talent pool has expanded, the company reduced office overhead and its carbon footprint, and employees say they have a better work/life balance. This transition has been beneficial to TIC’s company culture, partner relationships and overall business strategy.

In March 2020, TIC took steps to swiftly ensure the safety of its employees by pivoting to a remote workforce. While they initially anticipated this to be a temporary solution, the team quickly acclimated and appreciated the many benefits of working from home.

Leaders surveyed the team on their remote work experience and found that more than 85 percent of the team were comfortable, able or preferred to work from home. Based on employee feedback, the desire to increase safety, flexibility and talent pool and to decrease physical footprint, the company made the careful decision to extend the work-from-home policy permanently.

“With the increased flexibility, TIC now has employees in more than 14 states.”

Since moving to a remote work environment, here are several benefits TIC has realized:

Talent

Without the necessary commute to a physical office, TIC’s talent pool expanded. We now recruit the best talent from across the country, and current employees have the flexibility to move to other cities and states.

In 2020, all employees worked in Calabasas, Calif. With the increased flexibility, TIC now has employees in more than 14 states.

Environment

TIC dramatically reduced its office overhead and carbon footprint. Employees enjoy greater flexibility within their day as they no longer commute in Southern California traffic. For some employees that means saving 12,000 miles a year. At the current rate of gas, and for a standard 30 MPG, employees could be saving $2,400 a year!

Work/Life Balance

During breaks and lunch, employees enjoy their neighborhood or backyard, spend time with family, take their pet for a walk, and squeeze in housework or a workout. Employees say this has contributed to a better work/life balance.

Customers

By eliminating obstacles such as conference room size, travel time and unpredictable traffic, the underwriters and their assistants have the flexibility to meet with more of their brokers, more frequently, face-to-face over Zoom. This has created stronger connections while allowing TIC underwriters to remain safe and use their time more efficiently.

TIC has not just maintained its strong culture, diversity and engagement. We have improved all three in in the remote work environment. Strategies to accomplish this include:

• Communication and events. Engagement continues through multiple communication touchpoints for teams—email, chat, events, phone calls, meetings—and through companywide and group events that provide opportunities for employees to share their stories or play games, such as Pictionary, poker and trivia. Companywide events include contests where employees share photos, costumes, experiences or participate in creative projects including a cookie decorating contest, and personal features in the companywide newsletter.

During smaller informal events, known as Coffee Chats, employees are invited to a Zoom meeting with colleagues and a senior executive to chat about work and life.

Another engagement opportunity is Colleague Connection, a monthly event where employees can join and talk with someone from a different department or team one-on-one.

• Seamless on-boarding for new hires. The process utilizes human resources management software for completely virtual and paperless onboarding. We provide a company introductory video and send equipment directly to new hires with instructions from IT and a company-branded item for their home office. We also host an onboarding session the morning of their first day and conduct 30-, 60- and 90-day check-ins to answer any questions and solicit feedback.

• Celebrate successes and recognize others.

• Be flexible. Try new systems, practices and methodologies, and shift as needed

• Creatively replicate annual events and traditions that were previously held in person.

After two years, the TIC team continues to enjoy working from home. Company culture and leadership are driving forces behind productivity and engagement in this remote work environment.