Results of Go Pensions Survey
In our latest survey, we have looked at how the TPA experience is developing during the Covid-19 lockdown. All TPAs previously reported that they could continue with remote working indefinitely. However, this is clearly just an emergency capability rather than a preferred approach. Although some firms maybe contemplating more homeworking, it is clear that returning to ‘normal’ office working is likely to be the norm for most of the workforce.
This is not at all surprising. There are many challenges with homeworking. The logistics are more involved and issues such as hardware security are more complex to manage. However, there are many human reasons to return to office working. Some mental health challenges have been experienced by homeworkers across the UK. Blending homeworking with family life day after day can be a struggle. Homeworking Is not for everyone – in fact, it probably only suits a minority of people who are sufficiently motivated and empowered to work in relative isolation. Overall, we feel that only a small percentage of jobs lend themselves to remote working. It will be interesting to see whether any short-term desires to embrace home working will work out in practice.
Remote working implemented, swiftly
Previously we established the importance of Business Contingency Plans (BCPs) which were clearly essential for this national emergency. Only modest issues and delays were reported by TPAs. This has been validated in our follow up where we asked two specific questions to ascertain more precisely what was experienced.
The majority of workforces were transitioned to home working within a relatively short space of time. The minority reported an elapse times of greater than 2 weeks.
Incoming mail – more of a challenge
A key challenge of lockdown has been physical paper processing – an activity that can’t realistically be done from home. Outbound post has largely been shifted to electronic alternatives. Pre-lockdown, inbound mail fell into two camps – an in-house ‘mailroom’ type function or an outsourced approach. This has broadly continued with some changing their approach. New approaches include a migration from in-house to outsource (perhaps bringing forward plans already in place) and innovative ways of managing resource while maintaining social distancing. Either way, it seems that post is still being processed as a ‘business as usual’ activity.
Previously we saw a mixed experience of casework volumes. Some had previously reported large fluctuations but things seem to be levelling off around a norm. Anecdotally, the increases noted are unfortunately for deaths which is perhaps not surprising with circa 20,000 more cases above the seasonal norm being experienced across the UK – and some of these people may have had multiple scheme memberships, exaggerating the challenge for our industry.
Project work is hugely variable
As with our first survey, respondents tussled to generalise. Project work under normal conditions is variable and this seems to be exaggerated under lockdown. Some projects have stopped, some have slowed, some have accelerated and new ones have been initiated. It is very challenging therefore to ascertain whether Covid-19 lockdown has had any overall impact on project work short term. Our feeling is that more projects will emerge as the UK comes out of lockdown and businesses leverage the innovations they experienced under a national emergency.