The broker’s chief executive told Insurance Times that the nationwide move to working from home in accordance with Covid-19 social distancing measures has ‘completely changed our attitude’

Although nationwide home working was initially introduced for non-key workers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, PIB Group’s chief executive Brendan McManus has labelled the move a successful experiment – he told Insurance Times that it has “completely changed our attitude towards physical real estate and the locations that we’re in and how we’ll work in the future”.

McManus continued: “I don’t think we would ever have been brave enough to experiment like this, but the experiment’s working and I don’t think any of us really want to go back.”

At PIB Group, the switch to remote working instead of being office-based was seamlessly conducted in two days – McManus accredited this to the fact that the broker is still a relatively new business that has only been operational for four years.

This means that “everything we’ve done is based on the technology that you can buy now, it’s all in the cloud”.

Furthermore, the business invested in 300 new laptops the week before lockdown, thanks to the foresight of the Group’s chief operations officer. This has meant that staff without adequate technology at home could be sent a laptop to use for work purposes.

Moving forwards, however, McManus predicted that offices will become “social hubs” rather than permanent places of work.

He said: “What we’re thinking is the office needs to be a social hub, more for team meetings and seeing your mates. There’s a value in that social mechanic still happening. [But,] it’s definitely changed our mind about the office. People are very comfortable working from home.”

McManus added that employee collaboration has even improved, despite the lack of face-to-face contact.

“Because we’re being forced to do it through teleconferencing and [Microsoft] Teams and Zoom, the level of collaboration has actually increased; people have got to know each other a little bit better,” he said.

Staff confidence

PIB Group has also ensured to keep its ear to the ground in terms of how staff are feeling about home working, as well as potentially returning to the firm’s London-based headquarters.

Last month, the broker conducted an internal staff survey, where 650 of the 1,300 strong workforce responded within a day.

“Over 60% of people have said they don’t feel they would be safe returning to the office at the moment because of issues around public transport and social distancing.

”So, we’re not going to ask people to come back, it’s as simple as that. And also, people would struggle with childcare as well,” McManus explained.

“Staff overwhelmingly think they would like to retain the ability to work from home and work more flexibly. I vote for that. If that’s what they want and that’s the way we make PIB an attractive place to come to work, then that’s what we’ll do.

“But I do think we’ll have to work hard on keeping the social mechanic, making sure that people see others as colleagues, not just as distant beings.”