In this article, Chris Stappard, Managing Director at Edward Reed Recruitment, takes a look at why working from home has a big part to play in the future of the finance industry.
Generally speaking, the finance sector has always been more traditional than other industries, with a preference for business dress and 9–5 days in the office. However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit the UK, the subsequent lockdown forced many firms to rapidly adapt their operation to allow for remote working across the entire company, changing the way business was done overnight.
Now, several months later, the Government has started to ease the lockdown conditions, with some businesses being allowed to reopen. But, when the time comes for the finance industry to return to something resembling normal, will we see a return to the model that was in place before? Honestly, I don’t think so. Here are a few reasons why home working is here to stay in the finance sector.
Access to a wider pool of talent
Under the traditional model of requiring staff to work within an office space, recruitment is usually restricted to candidates who are within commuting distance and those willing to relocate. However, by removing the limitations of a physical office and embracing remote working, suddenly the market opens up and gives you access to a worldwide talent pool. This will hugely benefit your organisation, because you won’t have to compromise in your search for an outstanding candidate, ensuring you have the right people in place to ensure your firm can continue to grow.
Employees now expect and enjoy remote working
While finance has always been resistant to remote working, the reality is that employees across all industries now view working from home as a perk they want in their jobs. A 2019 survey by Buffer found that almost all (99%) of people would prefer to be able to work from home some of the time. And, if anything, the recent lockdown has strengthened that opinion in the finance industry, with more than half of workers hoping they can continue remote working after it’s lifted (Hitachi).
Because working from home has become part of the new normal, it will be hard to make employees return to the older office model. What’s more, when the time comes to hire new staff, they will be most likely expecting some kind of remote working option, so if your business does not offer it, then you may well lose out on an exciting new candidate.
Productivity has been proven
If there was anything holding remote working back from becoming more widespread, it was the belief that there would be more distraction and lower productivity. However, the enforced lockdown has smashed any stigma attached to the arrangement, with thousands of finance companies able to continue working as usual after a short adjustment period.
You only need to look at Barclays, who are a huge financial institution that currently has 70,000 staff working remotely, to see that remote work is possible, even on the grandest scale. In fact, Jes Staley, the bank’s Chief Executive, went on record to say “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past” (Reuters).
Office overheads are reduced
While there are plenty of operational advantages to switching to a remote working model, there are also financial benefits. If your business can thrive without the need for an office space, then there’s little point in paying for one. Though there will be initial set up costs, this switch could hugely reduce your overheads, with the likes of rent and upkeep removed from the equation.
Even if a large part of your daily operation is spent meeting clients, it’s important to remember that they will have been forced to work remotely too. This means that, not only will they likely be set up for video conferencing, but they will be used to the idea of it as well. So, if you’re worried about not being able to meet face to face, your clients probably won’t be expecting it of you. Even when it’s possible to have meetings once again, you could visit their office or host them in a hired venue.
I hope this article has been insightful in explaining why remote working will be here to stay in the financial sector and how it might be able to improve your business operation.