The Inflection Point of In-Person Work
Updated: Dec 11, 2022
Casey Quirk recently interviewed 28 CEOs, COOs, and HR heads of 28 top asset managers, with a collective $48 trillion under management and more than 164,930 professionals employed in 54 countries. In a recent whitepaper, they report that “where we work” has shifted from a topic to navigate to a top priority. There are pervasive concerns that firms have been draining their cultural batteries for over two years, and that it is, as a Wall Street Journal article put it,“Time to Get Back To The Office.”
The solution involves compromise. While employees deeply appreciate the flexibility that comes with remote work and the time savings gained in not commuting, leaders are struggling to preserve strong cultural identities, effective apprenticeship models, and productivity amid a deteriorating labor market.
To be effective, the case for in-person work must be clear, compelling, and consistently communicated. Quirk cites the 5 C’s as a base case to build from:
Creativity: In-person brainstorming yields better innovations.
Collaboration: In-person work fosters better teamwork.
Coaching: Apprenticeship only thrives in person.
Culture: Workplace culture is founded on personal relationships, which are forged in person.
Conflict Resolution: Conflict is resolved more easily face-to-face.
The requirements need to be clear
Firms that have merely suggested a return to the office report consistently low attendance rates.
Firms with clearly defined policies, expectations, and start date report substantially higher in-office rates.
Quickly deciding on and communicating expectations is proving more effective
Firms that let employee-dictated remote work arrangements calcify struggle to implement changes.
Firms that made earlier efforts to return to hybrid or in-person models are seeing more success.
Firms that pushed to return to in-office work earlier have shown better adoption rates and higher satisfaction rates with the return to in-person work arrangements.
Hybrid arrangements may require incentives
Circular A/V capabilities, full office integrations, and improved co-working technologies may help improve and democratize the new hybrid model, helping to place in-person and remote colleagues on a more level playing field.
Many firms have reported success through investing in in-office incentives such as free food, social events, get-togethers, and happy hours, with others considering more robust ideas to help soften commuting and childcare adjustments.
While new policies will vary, many firms are focused on adopting a “3-2” model with 3 days in the office and 2 that are remote by the end of the year.
While change is never easy, the proverbial writing seems to be on the wall: asset management is heading back to the office.
Christy Charise, Founder & CEO of Strategic Advisor