I am very happy and grateful that Loughborough University chose to showcase my research ‘Working from home (WFH): Management styles must evolve to work effectively during the coronavirus lockdown’ on the university website, newsfeed, staff resource page and Imago website, a big thank you to Peter Warzynski and Nadine Skinner:


Working from home (WFH): Management styles must evolve to work effectively during the coronavirus lockdown (9 April 2020)

 Managers who are having to adapt and lead virtual teams should adopt a more people-focused style of leadership, according to new research.

Dr Alex Zarifis, of Loughborough University, has published a new paper which outlines the most effective ways of overseeing staff now that most people find themselves logging in from home.

The impact of coronavirus means that face-to-face interactions and office routines are no longer a feature of everyday working life.

This means that the style of management, known as transactional leadership, that until the lockdown had worked successfully, is no longer the most effective way of handling teams.

Instead, says Dr Zarifis, managers should adopt an approach known as transformational leadership – which puts staff member’s needs first.

The main characteristics of this method are:

·       Focus on people’s needs, not the tasks

·       Focus on motivating and inspiring

·       Encourage innovation

 Dr Zarifis said: “Transactional leadership focuses on tasks while transformational leadership focuses on people.

“This research found that in challenging times, with a high degree of uncertainty, people focused leadership is better.

“Put simplistically, teams that were forced to become virtual – due to COVID-19 – need a visionary leader, not an administrator.”

He added: “A leader of a virtual team should focus on people’s needs, motivate and be flexible – encouraging innovation.”

The main findings from the paper:

Focus on people’s needs, not the tasks

Understand the situation of each individual and support them in the way they need. If a team member has difficulty working because their children are at home, this would not be within the realms of responsibility of a transactional leader.

But it must be for a transformational leader.

Focus on motivating and inspiring

Accept that monitoring and controlling are often the priorities of functional management and transactional leadership may be less achievable and effective in virtual teams.

Instead act more like a project manager and a transformational leader.

As a transformational leader focus ion motivating and inspiring the shared vision instead of controlling.

What is a shared vision during a COVID-19 outbreak? This could be to stay safe and meet the requirements of our role.

Encourage innovation

Accept that working during COVID-19 is a project and act more like a project manager. A functional manager should accept this change and accept that they cannot act like a transactional manager during this non-routine period and must be flexible.

Managers whose instincts are to control every aspect of the work must learn to take a step back. Instead encourage innovation.

The current context of change must be accepted and utilised.

Loughborough University news (above)

 Imago website (above)

#COVID-19 #WFH #leadership

Alex Zarifis

Originally published in ‘The Conversation’: https://theconversation.com/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers-130910

Re-published under Creative Commons licence

In the past year, Elon Musk and Tesla have fascinated the world with new innovations like the Tesla Cybertruck. There is excitement about most new Tesla products, but one hugely important one has been largely overlooked. With far less fanfare and no stage performance by Musk, Tesla started offering car insurance last September. In the long run, this is going to have a major impact on most of our lives – perhaps even greater than Tesla’s more eye-catching innovations.

Tesla Insurance is only available for Tesla vehicles in some states of the US at present. It will expand the number of territories gradually over time. But as with the Tesla Cybertruck, the company first wants to see how the business holds up to whatever is thrown at it and whether it cracks under pressure.

For those eligible for Tesla Insurance, the company claims to offer premiums 20% to 30% lower than rivals. Yet even if you are in an area where you can request a quote, Tesla won’t necessarily make you an offer. It sometimes still refers drivers to a traditional insurance partner instead. It may be that Tesla chooses the clearer, less risky cases and sends more complex ones to insurers with more experience and appetite to handle them.

So why is Tesla selling car insurance? For one thing, it has the real-time data from all its drivers’ behaviour and the performance of its vehicle technology, including camera recordings and sensor readings, so it can estimate the risk of accidents and repair costs accurately. This reliance on data may well mean it never branches into selling insurance to drivers of other manufacturers’ cars.


Data, data, data. Lipik Stock Media

At the moment, Tesla is offering insurance premiums calculated with aggregated anonymous data. In future it could roll out more customised services, like the ones offered by insurers using telematic black boxes, to offer drivers (cheaper) quotes based on how they actually drive.

Every time there is an accident, Tesla has instant access to data about the driver behaviour that led to it. One attraction for the company is that it can evaluate how some of its technologies, like autopilotstability controlanti-theft systems and bullet-resistant steel, can reduce risk.

Another motivation for Tesla is that some insurers charge a relatively high premium for Tesla cars. One reason is that they still don’t have much historic information about the cost of repairs of electric vehicles. By vertically integrating insurance into its offering, Tesla brings down the price of owning its products.

At the same time, insurance is a barrier to many innovations that Tesla is targeting for the future. With the insurance taken care of, it will be easier to sell self-driving vehicles or send people to Mars (with sister company SpaceX). Like many things Elon Musk does, this both solves a short-term problem and fits the longer-term strategy. It’s a little like how Tesla focused on producing luxury vehicles first to finance the infrastructure for selling cheaper cars like the Tesla Model 3.

How insurance is changing

Tesla has one more reason for offering insurance, which is that the sector is changing: a tech company disrupting it fits the zeitgeist perfectly. My research at Loughborough University has looked into this disruption. I evaluated 32 insurance providers around the world including Tesla and found that artificial intelligencebig data, the internet of thingsblockchain and edge computing were all rewiring insurance, both literally and metaphorically.


Stormy times. 24Novembers

Broadly speaking, the work of the insurer is shifting from local human expert underwriters to automation driven by big data and AI. The existing industry players that I evaluated essentially fell into three categories. Some had recognised they cannot compete with tech companies. They were focusing on interacting with customers, branding and marketing, while outsourcing everything else to companies with the relevant skills.

Other insurers were trying to add new technologies to their existing business model. For instance, some are using chatbots that apply machine learning and natural language processing to offer live customer support. Yet another group had more fully embraced the new technological capabilities. For example, life insurers like Vitality and Bupa now encourage customers to use wearable monitoring devices to offer them guidance on improving their health and avoiding accidents.

Alongside all these were the new breed of insurers, with Tesla perhaps the best example. Others include Chinese giants Alibaba and Tencent. Just like Apple and Google are making incursions into banking and finance, these are tech-savvy companies with many existing customers who are adding insurance to their portfolio of services. In every case, the capabilities of AI and big data-driven automation have acted as a catalyst.

What it means for drivers

In the short term, Tesla drivers can look forward to insurance that is arguably more seamless and convenient and may well be cheaper – particularly if they clock up fewer miles and drive safely. (Drivers should still compare prices with other insurers: the likes of Progressive and GEICO are among those that insure Tesla vehicles.)

In the longer term, this is a sign that insurance – like bankingroad tax and many services – will be driven by real-time data. It will probably change our behaviour for the better. We will probably drive slower, eat healthier food and exercise more – even if libertarians will be uneasy.

This shift will challenge our attitudes towards personal information privacy. Some of us will value the benefits of being open and transparent with our personal information, while others might seek solutions that keep their data with them. Edge computing has potential here, since it allows some data processing to be done on your device so that your personal data doesn’t need to be sent to a central server.

So Tesla and Elon Musk have not just added another revenue stream to their many successful endeavours. They are also helping to fundamentally change the way that we interact with insurance providers. In the future, insurers will be more like a partner on our journey both by car and on foot – both on Earth and beyond.

The article by Dr Alex Zarifis on ‘Why is Tesla selling insurance and what does it mean for drivers?’ was covered by several media including the following:

Loughborough University, School of Business and Economics Blog:  https://blog.lboro.ac.uk/sbe/2020/02/04/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance/

Loughborough University: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/news-events/news/2020/january/tesla-insurance-what-it-means-for-drivers/

Yahoo Finance: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-tesla-selling-insurance-does-134056575.html

Yahoo News: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/why-tesla-selling-insurance-does-150614245.html

Worth: https://www.worth.com/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers/

The Digital Insurer: https://www.the-digital-insurer.com/aggregator/why-is-tesla-selling-car-insurance/

Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/90459676/this-tesla-product-will-be-more-even-important-than-the-cybertruck

Clean Technica: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/02/18/tesla-insurance-offers-several-benefits/

Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia, ICDM: https://icdm.com.my/article/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers

QRIUS: https://qrius.com/why-is-tesla-selling-car-insurance/

EconoTimes: https://www.econotimes.com/Why-is-Tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers-1573745

MenaFN: https://menafn.com/1099633633/Why-is-Tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers

Big News Network: https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/263884412/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers

Stuff: https://stuff.co.za/2020/02/07/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers/

Ponder Wall: https://ponderwall.com/index.php/2020/02/07/tesla-selling-insurance/

Non Perele: https://nonperele.com/why-is-tesla-selling-insurance-and-what-does-it-mean-for-drivers/

TECHNGI Project: https://www.techngi.uk/2020/02/12/why-is-tesla-selling