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. March marks a milestone, two years from the transition of an in-office work experience to a permanent work from home model. This shift has continued to be effective and 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% of the team were comfortable, able and/or preferred to work from home. Based on employee feedback, the desire to increase safety, flexibility and talent pool, and decrease physical footprint, the company made the careful decision to extend the work from home policy permanently.
Since moving to a remote environment, here are several benefits TIC has realized:
Without the necessary commute to a physical office, TIC’s talent pool expanded. They 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, California. With the increased flexibility, TIC now has employees in more than 14 states.
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!).
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.
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 only maintained their strong culture, diversity, and engagement, but they have improved it in the remote workforce environment. Here are several strategies they have utilized:
- Multiple communication touchpoints for teams
- Email, chat, events, phone calls, meetings
- Host company-wide events and opportunities for employees to share their stories
- Contests where employees share photos, costumes, experiences or participate in creative projects including a cookie decorating contest
- Personal features in the company-wide newsletter
- Coffee Chats, small informal events where employees are invited to a Zoom meeting with colleagues and a senior executive to chat about work and life
- Colleague Connection, a monthly event where employees can join and talk with someone from a different department or team one on one
- Games and activities including Pictionary, poker, and trivia
- Create a seamless onboarding process for new hires
- Utilize human resources management software for completely virtual and paperless onboarding
- Provide a company introductory video
- Send equipment directly to new hires with instructions from IT and a company-branded item for their home office
- Host an onboarding session the morning of their first day
- Conduct 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins to answer any questions and solicit feedback
Other critical strategies:
- Celebrate successes and recognize others
- Flexibility to try new systems, practices, and methodologies, and shift as needed
- With creativity, 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.
If you would like to learn more about Topa Insurance Company’s culture and remote workforce, please contact:
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer