Shaping the future of work

'Tis the season! Time to lift our spirits and reflect on all that made the past year what it was. If you’re thinking about your upcoming holiday plans, at some point tradition will surely mandate binge-watching holiday classics new and old such as the famous 1990 film Home Alone. As we navigate through yet another year of the pandemic, Kevin McCallister is here again to teach us how to make the best out of a bad situation and thrive, not just survive. 

In 2020, coronavirus pushed us into a form of isolation that exerted a tremendous effect on our mental and physical well-being. Although the learning curve was steep, we proved to be good at adapting, just like Kevin. Covid-19 slowed down many areas of our lives as well as the global economy, but it accelerated other aspects, such as digitalization. 

It also set out to transform the world of work. 

The pandemic triggered a mass social experiment in working from home (WFH). According to the estimates provided by VoxEU using household survey data for 31 countries for the second quarter of 2020, 557 million workers worked from home, accounting for 17.4 percent of the world’s employment. This seismic shift in working arrangements attracted no shortage of opinions about WFH. 

However, regardless of the plethora of views concerning WFH, employees and companies had to make WFH work almost instantly. With Covid-19 and new pandemic waves still ongoing, companies, together with their employees, began shaping the future of working life that goes well beyond just remote working. One that looks at the nature of work itself. 

Woman is celebrating Allianz’s flexible, collaborative and agile new Ways of Working

From the New Work Model to WOW

Widespread working from home started as an emergency measure that slowly transformed into a model companies kept developing as the pandemic persisted. Soon after the shift to working from home, Allianz laid the foundations of its New Work Model (NWM), with a mission to create a blueprint for the future of work at the Group and at the same time, accelerate its transformation. In August 2021, after having introduced the NWM in 2020, Allianz took a further step in the work model’s evolution and rolled out a set of Global Minimum Standards for its new Ways of Working (WOW) applicable to Allianz companies Group-wide

Flexibility, collaboration, and agility became the building blocks of the Allianz WOW standards that revolve around five key action points: 1) flexible work and reduced travel; 2) digital tools; 3) health and well-being; 4) lifelong learning; and 5) organization and culture. 

Stefan Britz, Chief Human Resources Officer at Allianz SE
Just recently, Allianz was the first German headquartered company to  join the World Economic Forum (WEF) Partnership for New Work Standards. In this initiative, 20 international companies across different industries are setting new benchmarks for a healthy, resilient, and equitable future of work and will be co-creating a framework for the working standards of the future.
Renate Wagner, Allianz SE Board Member
Renate Wagner allianz

Setting the Stage: Shaping a New Landscape for the Workplace of the Future

Over the past 18 months, Allianz has been closely evaluating market practices and listening to its employees and customers as they made adjustments across the organization that resulted in an increase of unity and trust. What makes Allianz’s WOW standards stand out? It is worth taking a deeper dive into the five key areas that aim to create a framework for the future of work globally:

1. Beyond Home Office: Emphasis on Hybrid Work and Cross-Border Flexibility

It is clear by now that working continuously from home comes with its own set of challenges. Human beings need real social interaction and the feeling of being part of a team can be harder to achieve while sitting alone in your office corner at home despite all the technological advancements. Team cohesion, innovation, and spontaneity are not impossible to achieve virtually, as we have proven so far, but they do require more intentionality. For this reason, Allianz has decided to establish hybrid work as the new normal, which combines the best of both worlds—work from home and in-office. 

With the new Group-wide standards, Allianz offers its employees the option to work remotely a minimum of 40 percent of the time. Additionally, in practice, each operating entity within Allianz may strengthen and expand all company offers according to their local needs. 

These efforts also go hand in hand with the sustainability goals the company has achieved so far. Allianz wants its employees to spend more time where it matters while protecting the environment. For that reason, the company has reduced non-essential business travel globally by 40 percent. The decrease in non-essential business travel and commuting will help Allianz further reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions.

As we take a closer look at the impact of the Allianz WOW, we begin with examples influencing the heartbeat of Allianz—its people.

Allianz formulating new WOW

Allianz Benelux began the integration of the new WOW standards in a holistic way that included extensive communications efforts and trainings for managers and teams. Clarity and open conversations about what hybrid meant were key at Allianz Benelux, since the work location was defined by the type of work done. Operational activities and meetings, routine tasks, and projects requiring deeper focus (individual concentration) were defined as work that can be done at home, while social connection, ideation, and complex negotiations are typical activities that would require in-office surroundings.

The teams embraced curiosity, experimentation, and learning as natural components of hybrid work. “Your teams know what to do: facilitate and serve them in doing this, instead of telling them how it’s done,” is the advice that Jeroen Kruisdijk, CTO of Allianz Benelux, gives to all the people leaders who embark on this transformational journey toward new working models.

Now, imagine being able to travel across the globe to help your family when needed while still working. Or, working from an attractive and relaxing destination during your kids’ school holidays. After listening to its employees, Allianz has embraced even this kind of flexibility. With the rollout of the WOW global standards, the company’s employees are eligible to work up to 25 days per year abroad. So, can employees work remotely from another country? In principle, yes. In practice, each employee request must first meet certain legal and tax requirements that enable cross-border work. But, this process is not as daunting as it may sound. Instead of engaging in a multi-step, time-intensive process, employees are able to determine their eligibility within a matter of minutes through a smart assessment tool that instantly analyzes their key inputs ensuring a compliant approval. 

For Caitlin Natusch, a newly-joined team member at Allianz SE, the answer came in less than five minutes after she assessed her eligibility via the tool.

The only thing left for her to do was to have a final conversation with her manager and book a direct cross-continental ticket back home to the U.S.

“With the help of my dad, I kept the trip a surprise for my mom and best friend who I haven’t seen in nearly a year due to the pandemic.

The ability to make up for lost time—while still getting my work done––meant an incredible amount to me on a personal level and showed me firsthand how Allianz lives out their promise of caring for tomorrow, not just for their customers, but for their people too.”

Caitlin Natusch

2. Digital tools: The Backbone of Hybrid Work

A hybrid working model needs a  stable and secure infrastructure to make the switch from home to in-office work and vice versa seamless. The digital transformation that Allianz embarked on a decade ago gave it a head start, as the company implemented virtual workplaces with its Allianz Virtual Client (AVC) solution as early as 2011. Today, this core platform alone has more than 110,000 users globally, with more being added daily.

As for team collaboration and interaction, the company and its employees benefit by utilizing standard digital collaboration tools (Microsoft365, Slido, WebEx etc.). Far more customized are the new office concepts, with spaces equipped to support hybrid meetings.

3. Blurred Lines: Finding the Right Balance Between Life and Work  

Busy, isolated, and anxious could easily be the key words describing the pandemic experience­, especially while juggling home, work, and family. 

For these and similar reasons, Allianz employees have been given access to anonymous professional support hotlines, called Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). These hotlines are free of charge and can provide help and support for multiple challenging life situations, such as feelings of prolonged stress, anxiety, burnout, issues with one’s manager or peers, problems in relationships, families and more. 

The company also has invested in growing a large global community dedicated to mental health through mindfulness trainings, mental health podcasts, meditation sessions, resilience trainings and more. The WOW standards also introduced Three Work Effectiveness Rules about setting aside dedicated focus times (from half-day to full-day meeting-free periods), establishing an Allianz meeting etiquette for productive meeting habits, and respecting the employee’s time to disconnect.

Woman holding a child

4. Seeds of Growth: Learning and Personal Development

Allianz has prioritized becoming a continuous learning organization as upskilling and reskilling are crucial for its workforce to remain future-oriented. The company endorses individual learning time and encourages employees to devote one hour of work time per week to learning as part of the new WOW standards. 

To support continuous learning, Allianz introduced the AllianzU learning platform, a state-of-the-art, digital learning platform available in 27 languages and powered by Degreed to all its employees. With the help of Degreed, Allianz employees can address their individual learning needs with a personalized learning offer. This is combined with further Allianz efforts to drive upskilling and reskilling to support its Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP).

Lifelong learning also applies, of course, to leadership. In 2020 Allianz initiated the leadership development program #lead. At the heart of the program is the Allianz Leadership Passport, the ‘license’ that people leaders must have to effectively manage teams. Over 18,000 managers, regardless of level, experience or location, have embarked on the journey to obtain this passport before the end of 2021. The skills gained throughout the program will be regularly refreshed to reflect the latest learnings and insights.

Allianz U learning plat form

5. A Culture of Trust, Collaboration, and Empowerment

A team that works together stays together, goes the old adage. The culture a company encourages represents the shared values, attitudes, and behaviors of an organization and its employees. When properly aligned, it has the power to unleash energy toward a shared purpose and foster the organization’s capacity to thrive.

Allianz’s new WOW standards directly influence the organization and culture of the Group through cultural change programs that include: learning modules for all employees on how to work effectively in a hybrid set-up; needs-based learning sprints, practical exercises for leaders and teams on challenging situations in the hybrid set-up; and cultural team workshops focused on trust, empowerment, and  performance based on outcomes.

For hybrid setups to work, agile, flexible, and collaborative working styles boost the empowerment of employees and promote team cohesion.

At Allianz Turkey, this translated into an organizational mindset and not just a rigid framework to follow. To create a common language around agility, Allianz Turkey defined ten critical mindsets and accompanying behaviors that best define agility and summarized them under HEY!, an acronym that stands for Hızlı (Fast), Etkili (Effective) and Yetkili (Empowered).

Once defined, the team set out to comprehensively communicate the ideas around agility to both their employees and their external audience. In close collaboration with all HR teams, the HEY! mindset became integrated throughout the entire employee experience journey. As a result of this transformation, the team’s call center also transitioned to a fully remote call center. 

During this remote working period, the team noticed a sustained working efficiency, which continues to rise. Using the advantages of the new WOW standards and the learnings they gathered during this time, the team developed three personas in line with the global standards: one for the call center and IT (employees who can either work remotely full-time or at the office part-time); the second for the sales employees (who work four days from the field and one day remotely); and the third for the employees in administrative roles (who work three days remotely and two days from the office). 

allianz Turkey HEY new WOW

This transformation yielded favorable results in many aspects: from increased productivity to customer satisfaction. Allianz Turkey became a Loyalty Leader in all lines of business and employee engagement scores spiked. HEY! has been rewarded with seven awards from distinguished organizations such as Stevie, Sardis, and Prida. “With WOW, a meticulously prepared initiative has been launched that serves all our requirements,” added Ayşe İrem, a team member from Allianz Turkey.

In addition to increasing performance, WOW also proved to increase the company’s attractiveness as an employer: 

“I encountered HEY! while I was researching Allianz during my recruitment process. This agile culture that offers a people-focused, fun and an independent way of working affected my choice of future employer.

Despite offers from other renowned companies, I wanted to become a member of the Allianz family,” says Asli Öztürk, who is now a business architect at Allianz Turkey.

WOWing the Customers

A company that is able to anticipate trends and developments will also be able to adjust to changes faster and cater to its customers’ needs even in the midst of a major disruption such as a pandemic. The pandemic proved just how important WOW is for the company’s business goals. The combination of technology, flexibility, and employee empowerment meant that Allianz was able to switch to remote work (now, hybrid work) almost overnight and offer its customers services from anywhere and at any time. 

This was also true for Wolfgang Schwarz, a loss adjuster for Motor, working at Allianz Germany. Wolfgang sits in Regensburg and works from home, as do his colleagues. Loss adjusters are stationed at different locations so they can assess car damages and see the customers in person.

For loss adjusters, WFH was already an established working mode prior to the pandemic, and Wolfgang has been settling small damages remotely. This reduced costs and increased efficiency. 

Such working practices turned out to be of great advantage in 2020, when suddenly, travel to and from the customers was no longer possible. Wolfgang and his colleagues were able to continue their work uninterrupted using Allianz’s online system for car damage reports.

In 2019, Allianz rolled out its new LSK (Livestream Kalkulation) system, which turned out to be a huge asset when the pandemic started. This system allows Wolfgang and his colleagues to adjust losses end-to-end via a video-call livestream that utilizes AI. If the customer’s policy provides the right cover, Wolfgang can settle the damage right away. For Wolfgang, this resulted in new revelations about how we work and do business: “Much more is possible virtually than previously thought. Even total losses could be handled remotely.”

ways of working allianz customers
Allianz ways of working wow
The Allianz Ways of Working (WOW) have a clear connection to how the company cares for tomorrow and secures the future for its customers, employees, and the organization. Because of the Allianz WOW and subsequent global standards offering flexible, collaborative, and agile solutions that empower employees, Allianz customers are able to get simpler, prompter, and more innovative services and that offer the right mix of both digital and personal.

The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with 126 million* private and corporate customers in more than 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 716 billion euros** on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage nearly 1.8 trillion euros** of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we are among the leaders in the insurance  industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2021, over 155,000 employees achieved total revenues of 148.5 billion euros and an operating profit of 13.4 billion euros for the group.

These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.

*Including non-consolidated entities with Allianz customers.
** As of June 30, 2022

Press contact

Gesa Walter
Allianz SE
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements:

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