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Lloyd’s plans underwriting room revamp

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Lloyd’s has outlined plans for a “once-in-a-generation” revamp of its underwriting room, building on technology changes and insights driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The marketplace conducted more than 60 interviews with senior leaders and held dozens of focus groups during consultations in the first quarter and is seeking further input before releasing redesign plans later this year.

“We have experienced a tremendous feeling of goodwill for the role and purpose of the underwriting room, as well as a unanimous ambition for its ongoing future success,” CEO John Neal said.

A consultation report says remote working during the pandemic shows it’s possible to function in a solely digital environment but there is a strong sense the market is surviving rather than thriving on current technology.

Market participants agree lessons learned should be built upon rather than discarded, while they are unified on the value of the underwriting room, citing benefits such as serendipitous encounters and benefits for commercial interactions.

“The room thrives on achieving a critical mass and high density of market participants engaged in commercial activity,” it says. “The whole of the underwriting room is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Many firms and participants are expected to adopt hybrid work models, with on-site experience expectations much higher, the report says.

A redesign could also include spaces for more seamless face-to-face and virtual trading, state-of the-art events suites, break-out areas and different sized spaces for collaboration and innovation, quiet working areas and enhanced box design, layout and usage to maximise comfort and efficiency.

Proposals also included creating a more “destination” style venue to deliver a superior experience, with suggestions including a high-end restaurant, accommodation, bars, enhanced coffee shop facilities and conferences.

Lloyd’s plans to re-open the underwriting room from May 17 for those that need to be in, with capacity to be managed according to COVID requirements.

The marketplace will look to further relax restrictions and increase footfall in line with expected updated UK government guidance from June 21.