In a world of AI and worries about the threats it presents, a new book outlines a vision...read more
A new in-depth study of the financial and professional services sector finds many managers are ignoring calls to come back to the office on mandated days, with many favouring a remote first approach.
A ‘remote first’ move either has no impact on productivity or has a positive impact on financial and professional service workers, according to a new study by Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF) and LSE, which shows that managers are ignoring calls to come back to the office a certain number of days per week.
The report is based on qualitative interviews with 100 workers in the sector. The WIBF and LSE says it shows that the sector is far beyond the four-day work week which is currently being trialled in many firms in the UK and that, while at the C suite level executives in many large firms are asking for workers to come into the office a specific number of days per week, in practice they are being ignored, with managers often favouring a remote first approach that satisfies local operational needs.
Dr Grace Lordan, Director of The Inclusion Initiative at LSE and author of the report, said: “Firms that are adopting a ‘remote first’ approach, expecting their workers to be in the office only to collaborate or fulfill operational needs are those that can attract and retain the most diverse talent, particularly women. Firms that demand their employees are in the office for no reason will lose out on diverse talent pools. These demands are also ego driven rather than having the best interests of the business in mind.”
The report is based on interviews with 100 workers, 30% of whom were men, from a large array of firms including Bank of America, Blackrock, Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, NatWest, Schroders and UBS. The report proposes the UTOPIA framework, which is an action based guide for the future of work for financial services firms. It emphasises the role of trust, autonomy and psychological safety for the future of work. It also advises that firms should not seek to maximise employee happiness, but instead focus on curtailing burn out and isolation.
Anna Lane, President & CEO of WIBF, said: “What is clear is no one feels as if they have got this right. So, managers are experimenting, with productivity and psychological safety of their team in the centre of their minds. It is crucial that the attraction and retention of women is monitored during this experimental phase. I expect that those managers who are demanding their workers fulfill a rigid 3, 4 or 5 day schedule, will lose women to their competitors who do not.”
Dr Jasmine Virhia, Postdoctoral Researcher at The Inclusion Initiative at LSE and co-author of the report said: “Implementing the actions of UTOPIA will enable the maximisation of productivity while simultaneously allowing employers to embrace diversity.”