Remote Work—How to Support Work From Anywhere in the Finance Industry
It’s no secret that the recent pandemic radically altered how people view work and the workplace. This is especially true in the financial industry, where it is not always clear what work can and cannot be completed from home.
However, that doesn’t stop employees of these services from requesting partial or total remote work arrangements. Before deciding one way or the other, financial service leaders need to understand what goes into supporting remote workers and how to determine which path they allow workers to take.
What is Remote Work?
Remote work, which also goes by working from home or telecommuting, refers to an employment arrangement where the employee works from their home for some or all of their work hours. In general, this arrangement helps employees keep a healthier work-home balance and allows employers to retain happier workers on average.
Most of this comes down to the average employee skipping their morning commute through traffic for the days they work from home. Less time spent on the road means more time with the family and more time sat down with the day’s work.
Still, there are several challenges remote work causes for the financial industry.
How to Support Work From Anywhere in Financial Services
Many companies had to convert some or all of their staff to remote work setups thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in several lessons learned by both employees and employers. The financial industry in particular forced employers to learn about how to support workers from home, some of which may handle sensitive data.
The details and technical aspects of remote financial services depend on the company in question. However, almost all service providers in finance will need to keep these lessons in mind when supporting their new remote workers:
Understand What Roles Can Work From Home
Before allocating remote work days to all employees, managers and business owners need to consider what roles can afford to spend time away from the office.
For example, accountants might be able to work entirely remotely thanks to their tools and software requiring little more than what a standard laptop or tablet computer can offer. However, traders or software engineers managing funds and assets will find it tougher to be away from the robust systems running inside the firm.
Even bankers and other front-facing roles might find that trying to communicate via email and video calls doesn’t work as well as being with clients and partners face-to-face.
Overall, managers need to understand what tools are important for each role and how viable transporting those tools home with the worker is. The harder a person’s job gets when they work remotely, the less likely a manager should be to have that worker be at home.
Improve Your Remote Onboarding Process
For financial services hiring completely remote employees, there are interesting challenges ahead for bringing that new hire onto the team. Face-to-face meetings help new workers learn about the folks they will work with and how they fit onto the team. However, remote onboarding can make a new worker feel isolated or lost during training.
This is why following the best practices for remote onboarding is critical for businesses to adopt before taking new remote workers.
If a new hire comes away from their onboarding feeling like they don’t know what to do or what the expectations for their work are, then the onboarding process needs a review. Ideally, your remote onboarding would work just as well as an in-person onboarding and training session would.
Find Ways to Improve Coaching and Collaboration
Two of the main ways remote workers and managers struggle is with coaching opportunities and collaboration efforts.
Both new and veteran workers alike require coaching from managers and leadership, especially when new tools or operating practices come into play. It is harder to gauge how well everyone understands these changes when all you have to go on is an email or online course, instead of an in-person conversation with questions and answers.
Additionally, remote work encourages workers to work on their schedules, not a defined set of hours by the company. Thus, workers on the same team with different at-home schedules can cause slowdowns due to a lack of communication and information sharing.
Finding ways to overcome these hurdles will be the biggest challenge for financial services looking to have their workers go remote even just once per week.
Support Employee Needs During Remote Work
As mentioned earlier, managers and leaders need to understand what their employees need to work well from home. However, the further up you get on the corporate ladder, the further removed staff is from that understanding due to their different perspective and daily tasks.
Thus, leadership needs to talk to employees about their needs and recognize that, by meeting those needs, you accomplish two goals: efficient work and employee satisfaction.
However, the leadership will need to balance employee needs with what the company can afford to provide and with rules or guidelines on work hours and outputs. Remote work is about employee satisfaction and safety, but it cannot come at the cost of the company’s ability to serve its clients.
Create Plans for the Future
Finally, the world of financial services and financial tech changes every year. As new technologies come out that improve the efficiency of remote work or change how robust systems at the workplace operate, management needs to recognize when it can let employees work from home and when folks need to be at the office.
Gathering data about employee output and feedback can help management create plans that will allow the firm to operate in the future. Upper management and leadership also need to worry about things like real estate concerns, mobility plans for bringing employees to work, and even what technologies require office visits.
Supporting remote work in the financial industry requires more than just an understanding of the tools in use and information sensitivity. All financial services need to recognize how their workforce will react to a remote work arrangement and if that arrangement makes sense in the first place.
Overall, an empathetic and future-focused leader will, through planning and feedback, eventually find a balance that works for all parties involved.