“If you had told me early 2020 that we would have to deal with a crisis situation now, I would not have believed you. But looking back, fortunately the process went very smoothly. For SSPF, we pay pension benefits to some 25,000 pensioners and surviving relatives every month, and of course that needs to continue. That is why we have a crisis team at Achmea. This team ensures that business operations can continue in the event of a major disaster. Roadmaps had already been prepared describing what we should do in case of a crisis, such as a national power failure. After the corona outbreak this team initially met on a daily basis to assess the impact on the organisation and the business-critical chain.
“Our office is located in Tilburg and because of the major outbreak in Brabant we were working from home fairly quickly. A big advantage was that working from home was not entirely new to us, so the transition to working from home full-time and on a large scale went smoothly. The capacity of the network and the accessibility of our systems were well monitored, so that everything could continue as normal in times of crisis. A number of fallback scenarios had also been worked out, such as staff absence and possible poor performance of external partners (such as banks). Achmea has assisted us really well. Both in terms of facilities and information."
“We prefer to communicate with our participants digitally, as it is quick and efficient, and moreover it is good for the environment. A few people still like to receive information by post. At the office, things were easy; you just went to the printer and put the requested document in an envelope. But because we now work from home on a large scale, and not everyone has a printer, that doesn't work. That is why we now deliver it digitally to a printing company, which then sends the mail for us."
“A big advantage was that working from home was not entirely new to us”
“Despite the fact that we talk to each other digitally every day, I miss the personal contact with my team. Just looking someone in the eye to see how they are really doing, or having a chat with a colleague from another team when you're getting your coffee . That is why we now have, for those who want it, a daily digital coffee moment to catch up and not talk about work."
“Absolutely. We now work even more digitally. It saves paper and is more environmentally friendly. And I am enormously proud of my team! I already was, but now even more so. In very uncertain times you are suddenly forced to work completely from home. Sometimes with children or other housemates. Of course it was a bit of a puzzle with staffing levels on our phone lines because of employees with young children, but fortunately we were able to work things out between us. We didn't experience any backlogs in our work and our participants should have never noticed a thing."
“In general, I really do like it. Fortunately, I have a separate study, so I can really close my laptop in the evening and leave my work behind. I often go for a walk at the end of the day, to clear my head. My travel time used to come in handy for just that,, but now I simply walk every day. It's also good for my health!”
“I really do miss my team. I would love to work together again in the same office or have a drink together. But I stay positive! Just hang in there and when everyone has been vaccinated, I hope we can return to the old 'normal'. Working from home is probably there to stay - I expect also with the option of sometimes being together at the office. I think it is great to see that regular business operations can also be managed really well working from home. The best of both worlds, right?"
Suzanne Pama works as Manager Operations Pensioenfonds Shell for Achmea. Achmea is the cooperative parent company of companies including Centraal Beheer, Interpolis and Zilveren Kruis. Suzanne Pama lives in Brabant.