Open for business! On-boarding in a virtual world
We are very much open for business here at APR and have continued supporting many of our clients over the last few months in securing further actuarial resources and kicking off new actuarial projects. We have worked very closely with these clients to successfully onboard both our own staff and contractors on a remote basis.
The COVID-19 situation has created an element of uncertainty across the market, with some clients understandably focusing efforts to ensure that all existing staff could operate effectively on a remote basis. The good news on this front is that most have been able to manage this this successfully under the unavoidable tight timescales. Within the actuarial space this has no doubt been helped by many clients already offering an element of work from home options to most staff, therefore making the transition to working fully on a remote basis that much easier.
Several clients have continued to recruit as normal throughout, while some clients applied a temporary freeze until they could ensure all the required steps were put in place to be able to onboard new staff remotely. Again, the good news is the fast pace with which many clients have been able to implement a streamlined remote on-boarding process.
How has the on-boarding process changed?
We are all now becoming accustomed to video calls as a main means of communication which makes it easier to arrange interviews, even at short notice to help when tight deadlines apply.
Based on our experience and both candidate and client feedback, we have teased out aspects of remote on-boarding which have been most effective. We have also been pleased to see that amid the current circumstances, clients and contractors alike are sharing a flexible, empathetic and understanding attitude – one which has buoyed the on-boarding process against potential difficulties and allowed clients to review and amend practices quickly.
The ideal process will vary between individual organisations and the below highlights process insights we have found to work well and some pitfalls to look out for:
- Video call interviews have been extremely effective.
- Make sure expectations are set up front on expected on-site working pattern on return to normal working environment- to avoid future issues.
- Vetting processes streamlined/adapted (for example delays with criminal records checks with current situation) – waiver processes set up.
- Having the right communication and collaboration tools – without the normal desk set-up/meeting rooms/break out areas/canteens use all technology available.
- Create a ‘How we work’ document to cover areas that would normally be clear in an office environment- could include many topics a few examples expected working hours/ dealing with IT issues / contact numbers, options are endless and can cover any key areas not covered in initial training or to act as a reminder for key info.
- If permitted, individuals being set up on a personal laptop can save time.
- If a company laptop is required ensuring this is received in advance of start date is crucial.
- Hold virtual video call meeting with new starters on their first day.
- Set up video calls with key contacts in first few days.
- Ensure remote training plan is in place when required.
- Hold regular check- ins with new start.
- Strong communication lines are key now more than ever.
In the main feedback has been positive from contractors that have started new roles since the start of lockdown. Contractors are equally conscious of the flexibility required by the current circumstances and have been more than willing to meet requirements for technology, and have also been very flexible with start dates etc. We have witnessed a cooperative effort rather than a one-sided adjustment.
We have also seen a wide range of reactions from contractors in regards to their on-site time once things do go back to normal – many roles have started at a 100% remote basis and will continue for the full duration of their role, while others have agreed to return to on-site work at varying degrees once the situation returns to normal (setting expectations from the outset is essential).
Many skilled contractors who would normally be reluctant to take up positions at certain firms due to location and distance have been able to leverage the unique circumstances and have been actively engaged on remote-basis placements.
We have been checking in with contractors and they have been happy with the level of communication within their team, this has indicated a strong level of communication has been possible in the current circumstances.
One very positive take-away from the pandemic has been that an increased scope for remote working has widened the resource pool for many of our clients, increasing the talent at their disposal.
How APR can help
Clients come to us to help them solve a range of issues and problems which they can’t address using their existing resources or expertise. Our solutions will tend to fall into one of four categories:
- Interim resource to fill a gap in existing staff pool. This could be to cover for maternity leave / staff resignation, or to back-fill where internal staff are needed on other projects.
- Input into key transformation projects. This could be in the form of deliverables-based consultancy or provision of expertise to complement an existing client team.
- Supplying or supplementing a team to address a specific need or issue, often resulting from the discovery of legacy issues or a regulatory review.
- Addressing a knowledge or training gap within a client’s actuarial (or wider) team.
Once we have a thorough understanding of the issue our client needs to address, we use our extensive experience of the market to devise an appropriate solution. This could mean calling on either our own staff, our wider contractor pool or a combination of the two to present a high-quality, cost-effective service.
We can support roles via either a traditional resourcing route and also alternatively via a consulting route which can potentially allow a quicker turnaround time due to streamlined vetting, cross-training and delivery by our existing APR resources.
Under one recent example we provided urgent resource on a consultancy project basis, we were able to onboard a resource from interview to start in 1 week with support from the client to push through all their internal steps.
At APR, our staff are well adjusted to remote working and we can also accommodate our staff working offsite from our own offices in Edinburgh and London post-lockdown if required. Our existing management system and communication channels have been operating with an element of remote working for several years, and we have thankfully been able to take the challenges of COVID-19 in our stride.
Changes to future working landscape
Under this crisis and enforced remote working it has also delivered some positive effects that could become common place and give food for thought for the future, to mention a few:
- Remote working becoming the norm, or at least increased levels of remote working.
- Increased talent pool of candidates for roles with remote options.
- Reduced overheads – reducing office costs / desk capacity required.
- Better work life balance through reduced travel and commuting time.
- Reduced combined carbon footprint.
- Virtual meetings enabling the planning of meetings with attendees in multiple locations in a simple and cost effective manner.
- Improved productivity.
- Improved work life balance.
We understand that in these unprecedented times there may be added complications under any forms of resourcing, however we have also seen very positive moves by many of our clients to continue to secure resource and maintain their capacity and delivery. We are here to support you and would be happy to discuss any current or future requirements or future projects.