To help arrest the spread (“flattening the curve”) of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), businesses and schools everywhere are supporting social distancing by expanding remote workspace opportunities. At the Triple-I’s main offices in New York City and Arlington, Va., we encouraged our team members effective Thursday, March 12, to avoid unnecessary business travel and select the workspace arrangements that best support social distancing.
Laura Favinger, Triple-I’s Chief Administrative Officer explained in a Q&A session with James Ballot, the Triple-I’s Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, the organization’s Human Resources policies concerning COVID-19, as well as some potential consequences of widespread remote work during the crisis.
Q: How prepared is Triple-I to ramp up to extended duration remote work?
LF: The Triple-I is very prepared to conduct its business away from its two main offices for an extended period of time, if need be.
We talk a lot about resilience because we’ve experienced first-hand why resilience works. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the Triple-I’s main office in New York’s Financial District was forced to close for nearly two weeks because 110 William Street was inaccessible due to the flooding in lower Manhattan. The situation left most Triple-I team members without access to vital equipment and information. Times like this, unfortunately, are also when people need the Triple-I most. With this in mind, we’ve built out capabilities to ensure that we’re able to fulfill our mission to be the “trusted source of unique, data-driven insights on insurance.” We’re here to educate and inform the media, consumers, regulators, educators and others with as little disruption as possible. Since Sandy we’ve prepared for a wide range of contingencies by migrating to a decentralized information backbone (cloud-based file sharing and storage), accessible to the entire Triple-I team by laptop and tablet computers and mobile devices.
Since I arrived at the Triple-I just over two years ago, we’ve made significant strides toward creating even more robust, user-friendly and, yes, resilient standardized IT platforms. One collateral benefit of this effort is that we’ve brought on staff full-time subject matter experts and researchers who are based throughout the U.S., which has increased our ability to deliver fact-based information and answers to our many audiences. We had no idea a pandemic was coming, but I guess that’s the essence of resilience: assessing and mitigating your potential risks.
Q: What factored into the decision to encourage your team members to choose the workplace situation that best supports preventing the spread of Corona Virus Disease?
LF: For starters, we were prepared to do this, which made the decision easier. As mentioned, our team is geographically and demographically diverse. COVID-19 poses a greater threat to persons over the age of 60 and those with existing health complications. We’re encouraging them to decide for themselves what’s best. To simplify things, we’re making full-time remote work available to everyone at the Triple-I’s NYC and Arlington, Va. offices for the foreseeable future. We’ve set Friday, March 20 as our first milestone for review.
Q: Any potential “curveballs” that you’re becoming aware of?
LF: Well, the closing of schools is a bit of a disrupter because it gets crowded at home when parents and their school-aged children spend all day under the same roof. But supporting remote work in general has allowed us to balance professional and personal concerns. One thing we all need to monitor, however, will be the prospect of millions of people working and studying from remote locations at the same time—and this includes increased load from streaming media (which already accounts for more than two-thirds of all Internet traffic). We’ll need to monitor the possibility of overloaded information networks and other infrastructure-related consequences and explore ways to mitigate the effect on the Triple-I’s productivity.
But the main goal—the only goal, actually at least for the foreseeable future—is for us to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.