Remote working should no longer be remedial
One of the concepts the pandemic has proven is that some roles can be done remotely. The banking and finance industry adapted extremely quickly to the pandemic, putting the health and well-being of its staff and customers first. Firms transported the necessary infrastructure to employees’ homes within an incredibly short period of time to enable them to work remotely.
I hope that, with the advent of widespread flexible working, we have finally seen the death of presenteeism; this idea that you have to be in the office by 8am and can only leave at 7pm, otherwise you’re not doing your job. We need to hang onto the realisation that this simply isn’t the case.
Banking is in open competition with other industries to attract future talent so it’s important that the industry continues to reflect the changing way people want to work.
Human beings are creatures of habit and we revert to old habits easily. As we start to return to life as normal, though, I do see a situation where – whether it’s for cultural reasons, operational or cost – more people will take advantage of the opportunity to work from home at least one or two days a week. This gives staff the option to go into workplaces for more specific assignments or experiences, such as collaboration or just the feeling of being supported by being around a team.
That’s been one of the biggest take-aways from the past year for me. For some of the more traditional industries – financial services, included – the approach to flexible and remote working has in the past been a bit remedial. There has been the question of whether leaders can trust their staff to actually do their jobs, but if you look at what happened in the finance sector at the start of pandemic, the market was still functioning, margin calls were still being met, trades were still being executed. That’s incredible and I believe it has changed the whole way of thinking with regards to how people work. As workplaces reopen, it will be interesting to see how companies enable a hybrid mix of staff working remotely and in the office, using technology in an effective way to ensure communication is not dropped between the two. My hope is that flexible working will be the most enduring change that comes out of the pandemic.
Read more from Andrew Rogan in our ‘What does resilience mean today?’ article on pages 14-16 of the Spring 2021 issue of Chartered Banker magazine.