There’s no rush to return to the office for many brokers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to think about before heading in.
While Quebec announced it will start to end its “pause” on the economy — though Montreal area businesses will wait until May 18, one week longer than the rest of the province, said Premier Francois Legault — the provincial broker association is urging its members to follow guidance from the government when it becomes available.
Even so, the effort needed to make sure those guidelines are met can’t be underestimated, advised Mathieu Brunet, first vice president of the Regroupement des cabinets de courtage d’assurance du Québec (RCCAQ).
Quebec Premier Francois Legault responds to reporters during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Monday, May 4, 2020, at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
At his own brokerage, MP2B Assurance in Laval, Que., where he is vice president, his team decided to put together plans a week ago so that they would be ready when the time came.
“There’s work to do, there’s preparation to do [and] you don’t want to rush people in,” he told Canadian Underwriter, estimating that it would take two weeks for the typical brokerage to get all the answers it needs on re-opening.
“You got to think of all the public areas, like the kitchen, and how you’re going to manage that. Printing stations that are shared between employees. Everything that is shared, like toilets. You need to talk with the building owner [about] how they’re going to manage clean-up,” Brunet said, adding that business travel and meetings are other important topics.
Once staff can be assured that they will be kept safe, the attention turns to clients. “How are you going to give access to visitors? That’s a big thing,” he said. “Are they going to come in by the same door that they’re going to go out? We don’t want any customers to come in at the same time, so you need to manage that.
“There are so many things to think of and we want to be sure that we’re ready to give good advice to all of our employees.”
He noted four priorities at his brokerage: The health and safety of employees; the continuity of the business with clients; respect of the government measures in place; and to maintain the financial health of the brokerage. “With those four priorities, we put in place a calendar of action to do prior to coming back to the office,” Brunet said.
When the government gives brokers the green light to return, the RCCAQ will advise its members of the province’s guidelines to ensure re-opening is done properly. But brokers are able to go enact additional measures if they feel it’s necessary, confirmed Typhaine Letertre, RCCAQ’s director of communications.
“We’ll keep the membership informed. We’ll provide guidance to ensure that the re-opening of the economy is successful,” Brunet said. “We don’t want any of our members being affected or complaining that, ‘You opened too fast,’ or [in a way] that doesn’t respect social distancing for the employees or their clients. We’re ready to help them in preparing all the physical [requirements] to protect all the employees and clients in their offices.”