By : Sophie , Posted on: 04th, May 2023
Is the alternative investment sector creeping back to office focussed working environments?.
Collaborative working in a hybrid environment
Many employees within the alternative investment and wider financial sector replaced their commute to the office for a home office in 2020. 3 years on we’re interested to see how working weeks will look going forward. Many people started working for a new employer without stepping foot in their firm’s office. This may have impacted on developing peer to peer relationships, team morale and mental wellbeing, if teams are still hybrid or fully remote. There is also the question of how to lead or manage successfully in a more fractured working environment. Of course, individuals and the businesses they work for might have different views here; individuals may find the negatives are far outweighed by the positives; saving 10+ hours a week in commuting time and the flexibility gained from working at home.
A term we hear often is the ‘Five C’s,’ (creativity, collaboration, coaching, culture, and conflict resolution) and satisfying these practices in a remote or hybrid environment can propose challenges. In a survey conducted by Casey Quirk (a Deloitte Business) they interviewed CEOs and leadership teams of some of the world’s largest asset managers who “…largely agreed that an in-person model stimulates creativity: innovation has always been a central element of successful asset management firms—leaders frequently noted that they believe the lack of in-person interactions has stymied their firm’s ability to innovate over the past 2.5 years.”
Work-life balance and the war on talent
Whilst many large international firms such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan refuse to give into hybrid working, many have struggled to decide what their policy should be, for fear of losing some of their best talent. According to S&P Market Intelligence and a recent survey of financial services employees; 56% of people “would consider quitting over a lack of work-life balance. Attractive pay no longer seems to be enough to keep the best and the brightest in the profession, according to people close to the sector.” On the flip side Lemonedge have identified record levels from banking and financial service personnel planning to leave their position due to hybrid working: “33% state that working from home and hybrid working has increased burnout, with 14% stating it’s risen exponentially.” Although these findings represent the financial sector as a whole and it’s not specific to the alternative investment sector, it’s interesting to see the effects of hybrid working from both sides.
Projections for 2023 and beyond
We’re at a significant turning point regarding hybrid working and what happens throughout the course of 2023 could set working practices for years to come. According to Casey Quirk’s research “leadership teams think that a 3-2 model achieves a reasonably beneficial equilibrium for all parties.” The report went on to explain how some firms are making significant design adjustments to their offices to achieve greater work life balance and team collaboration which can only improve the office working environment. They are also working on adapting better hybrid and audio-visual technology.
What does success look like with regards to encouraging people back into the office? According to PWC firms reporting better results are those who:
1. Began their return-to-work approach early
2. Establish good dialogue on why it’s important to be in office
3. Define clear policies – better at explaining details of policy: days a week, time frame
4. Offer in-office incentives: free food, happy hours, get togethers
5. Empower managers to make ‘on the spot’ decisions for employees or the team where practices aren’t working
The points above reflect our experience recruiting into the sector; we are also noticing that firms who have a clearly defined working pattern policy, which they communicate at interview stage, are producing better quality of applicants. We recognise that it’s important for firms to be able to measure the success of productivity within their teams whilst they may be working from home. There are wildly differing views as firms plan their future stance on remote working. While it is essential to understand what employees feel is important to achieve and maintain a good work/life balance, it is also important for firms to strategise and discover what working practises suit their firm; that ultimately will lead to long term balance and surety for employees and applicants.
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