Many insurance companies now have some kind of telecommuting arrangements with members of their workforces. There are plenty of claims processors, for example, who work out of their homes, connected to the corporate intranet from their home-based offices. Many clinical specialists that do consultations by phone or e-mail also do so from their homes, as do claims adjusters, customer service representatives and help desk professionals.

For many tasks, it simply doesn’t matter if the employee is inside or outside the firewall for getting jobs done on a daily basis. Telework also eases insurance recruiting challenges, making it possible to attract working parents or talent from far regions of the country—or even the globe, for that matter.

Many managers know intuitively that telework is a good deal for both the company and employee. Now, Cisco Systems Inc. has just released a study that puts actual numbers behind these benefits. Cisco studied 2,000 members of its own telecommuting workforce and calculates that it has generated an estimated annual savings of $277 million in productivity by allowing employees to telecommute and telework.

But that’s not all. In the study, conducted at the end of 2008, approximately 69% of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remotely, and 75% of those surveyed said the timeliness of their work improved. In addition, by telecommuting, 83% of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate with coworkers was the same as, if not better than, it was when working on-site. In addition, 67% of survey respondents said their overall work quality improved when telecommuting.

Insurance carriers battling high turnover rates should also take note of another key finding from the Cisco study. Telecommuting can also lead to a higher employee retention rate, as more than 91% of respondents say telecommuting is somewhat or very important to their overall job satisfaction.

And for those managers concerned about their organization’s carbon footprint, telework also alleviates the amount of energy consumed and wasted in getting to and from the office or meetings. The study estimates that in 2008, Cisco teleworkers prevented approximately 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the environment due to avoided travel. The typical office commute in North America was 30 miles roundtrip, and employees reported a fuel cost savings of $10.3 million per year due to telecommuting.

While Cisco is a high-tech company, and thus likely to be more savvy than its counterparts in other industries about networking approaches, the findings here reflect positive opportunities for companies of all types.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology. He can be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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