A Virtual Zoom call with the AIRROC NextGen Task Force
An actual Zoom call would be harder to schedule than a virtual happy hour in the pandemic-hectic work lives of our busy NextGen Task Force members. So, we asked the Task Force members to answer few questions about their views on remote work and the Task Force. What follows is a virtual version of a virtual team meeting. Cheers!
1. What do you like best and least about working remotely?
Jessica Groenewegen (Tiger Risk): Best: I love not having a commute. I formerly spent around 2 – 3 hours a day commuting and had worked it into my routine, but I am really amazed by the number of tasks that I can cover in that time period. Whether I am squeezing in an exercise session or scheduling earlier calls with London clients, it seems I’ve been able to be much more productive now that I have that time back.
Least: I miss random conversations and kitchen chats with colleagues. Some of the best ideas come out of impromptu meetings and it is much easier to have these types of meetings in person. Taking the time to schedule them doesn’t often happen, but I think it is important we try to collaborate even in a virtual environment.
Grant Donkervoet (Two Sigma IQ): Best: More time with the family.
Least: Finding a quiet place to take conference calls.
Kathryn Reynolds (Riverstone): Best: I am much more productive at home. There are fewer distractions, which means I can work largely uninterrupted for hours. Not having a commute has been great too.
Least: I work with a lot of great people. I miss seeing them in person.
Nate Zwick (The Hartford): What I enjoy most about working remotely is the flexibility. I have been working remotely for about two years now and I think after the initial adjustment, what stood out to me was just the reframing of what it means to “go to work”. I think we have in our minds what “work” means, and for most of us it means a long, often stressful, commute to and from an office building. When I started working at home I gained a new perspective on work/life balance and I started viewing work not as a separate thing I “go to” every day, but just another part of my life.
What I like least about working remotely is not having the spontaneous, personal conversations with co-workers. Everything remote has to be intentional, and often planned (I plan to call X at Y time to discuss Z). You are not able to just see someone in the hall and have a quick conversation about something work related or even personal. Those interactions are key, especially for new hires, as they form bonds between co-workers; and I definitely miss that working from home.
Matt DiSanto (AON): Best: I have thoroughly enjoyed having more time in my day by not having to commute, which allows me to get more done for work and more done around the house. Looking into the future, a permanent remote work environment or remote/office hybrid work schedule will open doors for favorable living arrangements.
Least: Tech companies, corporations, and employees still have yet to figure out conference calls and videos. The combination of sub-optimal software, inconsistent internet, and inexperienced users have made networking and communication more frustrating than it needs to be.
Simin Liu (Swiss Re): Best: I like not having to commute to work and not having to squeeze into a rush hour subway. I have been able to get more work done during the day. Work hours are more solid at home with me being the only person in the room.
Least: I miss the in-person interactions with co-workers – asking questions casually, eating lunch or getting coffee at the office, and spontaneous conversations with people without an agenda. I also miss bigger screens, better office supplies, and a bigger workspace.
Anthony D’Ambrosio (Brandywine Holdings): Best: I would say being able to wear comfortable clothing whenever I want until I have to show my face in a zoom or WebEx meeting. Then I have to throw on a nice shirt but still get to keep the comfortable pants. I also think the best part is probably not having to commute into Philadelphia’s daily rush hour. It can get brutal sometimes traveling down 95 with never ending construction going on. I also feel like there is more time in the day to get work done with cutting out the commute. Commuting can be stressful whereas working from home you can just get right into the work without holding onto the stress of the commute you just endured for the last hour.
My least favorite part would have to be not being able to interact with my coworkers. I feel like while working from home, any type of communication with your coworker is strictly business. I think interacting with your coworker with non-work communications helps work operations run more smoothly. Also, communicating virtually, whether it is via WebEx meetings, via email, or via an instant messaging system, can sometimes be difficult and it would be easier to walk over to a coworker’s desk to get a simple answer to a question.
2. If you could time-travel back to the Fall of 2019, what advice would you give yourself?
Jessica: Funny enough, my advice has little to do with tips and tricks to work better from home, but rather focuses on the important of finding a work / life balance. I think COVID has allowed us to spend more time with people we love and doing things we love, instead of stressing about work. Your work will always be there, even if you’re not in the office 9 – 5, but there are so many ways to weave the things you love into your work life. Take an hour during lunch to workout. Introduce your kids or your pets to your team on zoom calls. Show them your work space. Being human does not take away from your credibility.
Grant: Remember when you were debating buying a house or not….do it! Also buy a nice standing desk, a Peloton bike (you still probably won’t use it) and some Tesla stock.
Katie: Buy stock in Zoom.
Nate: I would buy lots of free weights and gym equipment in preparation for the skyrocketing prices once gyms across America closed down. It has been a rough couple of months.
Matt: Get out to more in-person networking events before March 2020, as it is unknown when the next in-person event will be.
Sunny: Enjoy all travel opportunities, and don’t be shy at in-person networking events. Look for a bigger apartment.
Anthony: Knowing what is ahead of me, I would better acclimate myself on what I need from the office in the situation we are currently in. I feel like this working from home situation kind of blindsided me but now this can help me prepare for the future on possible situations like now.
3. What can the NextGen Task Force bring to AIRROC that will support your career?
Jessica: A new / different perspective.
Grant: Learning from the best in the business while bringing a different perspective that harnesses new technology and business models to improve risk transfer needs in the market.
Katie: We are creating networking and educational opportunities for young professionals. Hopefully those opportunities will support a lot of careers!
Nate: I’m sure my answer will mirror many of my colleagues, but the best thing we bring to AIRROC is undoubtedly our fresh perspective. When you are dealing with something like Runoff claims, which are inherently old/slow moving losses, it stands to reason that many of the practices and ways of thinking about Runoff will not have changed for many years. We are able to come at things with fresh eyes, and ask “why”, in many instances where people have just been following a certain procedure/practice for the past 30+ years.
Sunny: To build a platform to attract more young professionals with similar career interests, and to facilitate information sharing among professionals at all experience levels.
Matt: It will be a crucial step towards building out a network of peers in a niche industry at a similar spot in their career. The COVID-19 environment has presented the Task Force with a great opportunity to fulfill a networking, education, and career development need that has been disrupted by the Pandemic.
Anthony: This NextGen Task Force will help build a bridge for younger professionals to connect within the industry. It is perfect for people like me, who are relatively new, to understand how to build my career. Also, this group will help introduce even younger professionals to this industry, which is vital for my future as well.
What a great team! We will look forward to working with them, whether remotely or in person.