Canadian Underwriter

Your work is about to change. Why working from home won’t be the same

July 5, 2021   by Adam Malik

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Working from home more often means a change to the way property and casualty insurance industry professionals do their jobs, as well as the expectations between employee and employer, according to an expert from Aon.

“Part of your job duties, they’re going to change now,” observed Robin Daddar, Toronto-based vice president and senior consultant of fleet, safety, health and environment, risk control services at Aon. “All of our duties, whatever you had previously, that’s no longer going to be there.”

He estimates that anywhere between 25% and 50% of people will be working from home permanently once the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rearview mirror. “Companies have found out that the employees can perform as good an amount of work from home as they were in the office — sometimes better. You only have to be there in the office for essential meetings.”

Many offices will see some sort of transformation. They will house a few dozen “hotelling” workstations — desks where staff will either book ahead of time or grab on a first-come basis for the day. That means no more permanent desks, which translates to a reduced need for real estate.

But to pull this off properly, human resources leaders will “need to sit down and discuss with their employees: What’s going to happen? How is the office environment going to change?” Daddar said in an interview. “And job descriptions are going to change now. Or they should change.”

That’s because with remote work comes flexible schedules. Employment lawyers may also be part of the equation to determine what’s reasonable around flexible hours for, say, parents. Daddar expects their work schedules will likely change.

During the school year, many parents were at home with their kids who are doing virtual schooling. But when in-person schooling returns, drop-off and pick-up schedules will resume. That could mean the workday gets broken down into pieces.

“I think that’s something that is going to be discussed and negotiated about what’s reasonable,” Daddar told Canadian Underwriter. “If your kids are older and can bring themselves home, you don’t worry about it. But if they’re younger, they can’t come home by themselves. You have to be at the bus stop and wait for them or you have to go to the school to pick them up. So I think those kinds of things got to be discussed and negotiated with [employers].”

Employers will also need to ensure staff are equipped to work from home on a full-time basis. Some may argue that, after 16-plus months of being at home, employees should be able to keep going without any issue. But Daddar emphasized that this isn’t always the case. Some may be making do with what they have and may not have everything from a technological or ergonomics standpoint.

For example, if employers want their employees to be available after-hours, are they being provided with a proper workstation to do their work? It could be argued, according to Daddar, that the employer should be providing resources to ensure staff have a proper place to work at home with a desk, chair, and computer. And don’t forget about a phone if you want to be able to call them or have them able to check emails on the go.

This was an issue raised by P&C professionals in Canadian Underwriter’s recent Working From Home survey. When answering open-ended questions, some respondents pointed to a lack of equipment and support from their employer.

“[I] don’t have all necessary equipment, i.e., a printer,” said one.

“The ergonomics at home are not as good as they are at work,” another reader pointed out. “Doesn’t appear the employer took enough time/attention to ensure I was going to be completely comfortable, even over a year [later].”

If an employee is working from home and is hurt in their own house — such as tripping over cables or falling down the stairs — that could be covered under the company’s workers comp program, Daddar said. In determining coverage, the primary question to ask will be: Was a safe workstation or environment provided at home?

There are tax implications associated with working from home, Daddar observed. Employers should also assist employees in this area.

“If you set up your office at home, well, now you’re taking some of your house away for office work. If your kids are running around, you want a door that closed so you can do your work,” he said.

Daddar admitted he’s not a tax expert, “but there are provisions that allow you to charge some of your office space…as a legitimate expense [on your tax return]. Most of us don’t know what that is, because we have never done working from home before. Companies have to help people and say, ‘Here’s what you can do. You’re allowed whatever percent it is to do this, that, and the other [thing].’”


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8 Comments » for Your work is about to change. Why working from home won’t be the same
  1. pandora says:

    Except that you’re paying workers to not work 90% of the time they are supposed to be working cause they’re chatting online or having sex or drinking or whatever other nonsense. So that’s nice, the products will not go down in price even tho the employees are only really actually working 3 hours a day instead of 8 but are still getting paid for 8…
    Makes sense.
    Humans can’t be trusted and they have zero morals.

    • zubin says:

      If the company stands to benefit by not having to pay for office space and electricity and stationery etc, shouldn’t they give a pay raise.
      Also, what about those employees who live in a studio or 1 bedroom apartment? the employer cannot expect them to have privacy. I feel the employer can’t have butter on both sides. They need to compensate the employees appropriately, if not, let’s get back to working in an office setting.

    • Allan says:

      Dumb comment.

    • Laughing @ you says:

      You sound like an angry micromanager.

  2. Ron Warren says:

    Except your 90% number sounds completely fabricated because you either know someone or in fact did this amount of minimal work yourself. Bosses are aware when productivity drops, so they can adjust accordingly. How dare you state all humans cant be trusted

    • Christine Natasha says:

      Agreed. The firm I work at actually has their own secure network that each employee has to sign on to using their unique login ID and a randomly generated passcode that changes every few minutes. Once on the firm’s secure network, it keeps track of the time spent on it doing work, including the details such as which documents you were editing or working on, virtual meetings you attended, etc.
      I’m sure there must be other employers out there doing similar tracking of their employees time and work efforts. Whether or not your employer informs you of this or not – well that is a whole other ballgame!

  3. Shabana says:

    If the work is done, its quantity and quality can be assessed. Whatever home resources you spend.. is not bigger than whatever you don’t spend? Like fuel price with no travelling + formal clothes laundry + save traffic time+ make up/ grooming products + ordered meal. For me the only thing I use will be power .. thatz not much. Plus I get to be with kids.. priceless.. it could be annoying sometimes… but tatz wat kids are for. If u have kids.. you should have HSE at home a priority..regardless of work from anywer. I guess companies could save by : reducing office space, rents, office consumables – groceries… unwanted printing n paper wastage… learn to be fully paper less, etc. Isn’t that gud enough?.. the globally.. reduced traffic jam.. wastage of time for all.. less carbon emmissions.. n the list goes on!

  4. Steve Clelland says:

    Parents were picking up and dropping off kids at school before the pandemic. Most employers already offered flexibility in work hours within reason to accommodate parents. And what’s with your assumption that wfh means employees can be expected to work after hours? No!
    Taxes should be adjusted. If a printer is needed then employers can either supply them or they should be a tax write off. See goes for ergonomic equipment. How many people use printers now? There’s still people who need them but many places are going paperless. Insurance will change bit I can’t help but feel this “article” is nothing but positioning.

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