April 22, 2021

F&I product company plans to expand virtual work force

As millions of Americans enter month seven (or more) of work-from-home, many companies across industries are rethinking what the work day could, or should, look like. In the automotive sector, a leading finance-and-insurance company is looking to expand the practice of its employees working remotely.

Many players in the automotive retail and finance industry also have been weighing the pros and cons of the remote workplace, and what it could become once the world is no longer grappling with this modern plague.

Protective Life, a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. that includes Protective Asset Protection, is expanding its virtual work force in three markets. Before the pandemic, just 19 percent of company employees worked remotely. Today, 95 percent work outside the office.

“With employees performing well in this environment, and many signaling they would like to continue doing so post-pandemic, Protective decided to accelerate implementation of its workforce strategy,” the company said in a statement last week.

Living at the office — literally — has obvious drawbacks, chief among them being a blurring of the line between when the work day ends and free time begins. Connected employees may be reached at any time, and without the cutoff of being able to “go home for the day” employers’ expectations may shift to a 24-hour work experience. Still, employers recognize working from home saves employees time idling in traffic, pumping gas and putting miles on personal vehicles. Either way, employees working successfully in remote settings may prefer to choose for themselves how to balance their time.

After the pandemic ends, mandating office time may seem heavy-handed to some employees. Under COVID-19 conditions, the automotive sector was forced to join other industries that already allowed employees to set their own boundaries on when and where to work. Creating sustainable hybrid remote and in-office work opportunities likely will expand a pool of candidates, allow companies to reach beyond their current geographies and increase productivity beyond the confines of a 9-to-5 time block. Allowing employees more options in the future may be one silver lining from this pandemic, and one that shouldn’t be squandered in the years to come.