For some working in finance, the return to the office is nothing new. Many companies were deemed as “essential workers” during this time, due to the highly sensitive nature of client information. According to company policy of certain finance companies, staff were not permitted to work away from the office and access client data from their homes.
For the rest of the finance sector working from home, they have had to undergo many changes. Like workers in many sectors, companies have had to shift their working style to accommodate working from home including new challenges for staff management, training, and collaboration. Some have welcomed this, with the huge savings of remote working and not having to commute or pay for office space.
This adaptability and flexibility of working style will hopefully mean that companies are well-prepared for the imminent return of the office and any future changes and challenges.
Slowly But Surely
For the majority of finance companies, staff priorities have shifted to include flexible or hybrid working and a safe and hygienic working environment. This means that the return to the office will not be a sudden switch but rather something that happens gradually.
David Pierson, Director of Omba Advisory, commented:
“Following UK government guidelines in March 2020 Omba activated Business Continuity Protocols with the entire team working from home. Operationally this was easily achieved as all systems are cloud based and we didn’t experience any no downtime or operational issues. Daily video calls were put in place with the team to discuss priorities, daily work and maintain camaraderie.”
“As restrictions have eased and the vaccine rollout has gathered pace staff have been returning to the office as they are comfortable. Although the business continued to operate remotely it’s been great to have team members back to interact and experience the new energy of being back in our new offices in Southwark.”
“We’d expect this hybrid model to continue with people being able to work from home a day or two a week as they need but also have the benefits of the office available for interaction or team meetings.”
Like everything in the UK, the return to the office will depend largely on the objectives of the government’s roadmap to recovery and the rollout of the vaccine. Policies will also vary from company to company.
With a wider acceptance for remote working or flexible work arrangements, companies might be exploring alternatives to the ‘Monday-Friday, 9-5’ structure traditionally favoured.
What a Return to the Office Might Look Like
The return to the office may not look exactly the same as pre-coronavirus. There is a greater focus on health, safety and personal hygiene and all office spaces will need to be fully equipped to be infection free be it through readily available hand sanitiser, deep cleaning or ventilation systems.
How we interact in the workplace may also look a little different. Large-scale events, conferences or meetings may not be immediately possible. Additionally, collaborative spaces may have a different structure or a limited capacity in order to avoid the crossover of multiple people.