The new normal of remote work is going so well that some areas of financial services are already committing to making working from home a permanent policy or at least an option for employees once the pandemic passes.
“We’ve talked with all of our associates and many would like to continue to work from home,” said Christopher Shaw, vice president at SS&C Technologies, a provider of operational services for financial services firms.
“The new norm for us, especially in the foreseeable future, is we’re going to take it very slow in moving back into the office, and I would think we will have at least 50% of staff working from home over the long term,” Shaw added during a webinar Wednesday that was part of a week-long virtual conference hosted by Blue Vault.
“In the past we’ve had people working from home during big snowstorms here in Kansas City, but that was short term,” he added. “I think, longer-term, we will have less people working from the office.”
Michael Huisman, senior vice president and director of the transfer agency at UMB Bank in Milwaukee, said the lockdown that resulted from the coronavirus turned a two-year plan of embracing working from home into something “we pulled the trigger on in two days.”
In addition to creating a remote call center, the bank also realized how much excess paper it was using.
“We didn’t know our paper consumption, but we’ve gone from using nine boxes of paper a day to one ream of paper printed per day,” Huisman said. “We just got comfortable over time of always printing everything out. So, our print costs should go way down and we will also become more efficient.”
Huisman said feedback from UMB employees found that 10% would like to continue working from home, another 10% want to get back to the office, and the majority want the option of a more flexible work-from-home policy, which the bank plans to introduce when the pandemic is over.
In an industry that often requires physical signatures and medallion stamps, Shaw said there are some things that will still need to be done in person, but that he is seeing a broader acceptance of “digital models” that he expects will continue to expand and change the way work gets done.
“We are seeing more broker-dealers and assets managers embracing a digital environment, and we’re showing we can work on a digital model now,” he said. “Operationally all the broker-dealers and asset managers I’m speaking with are capable of doing this.”
Huisman said he has been surprised at how easily businesses and employees have adapted to a more virtual way of getting work done.
“We started out doing a lot of conference calls, but switched to doing more video conferences,” he said. “People are getting more comfortable with video and seeing a cat jumping on a table isn’t as awkward as it was at first.”
And while he believes it’s important for managers to stay in touch with their teams, he warns against “over communicating, because people will just get numb to it.”