Big Four partner reveals woes of hybrid working in fintech and how to fix them
Fintech, once a safe haven from demanding in-office schedules, is seeing a divisive trend as firms ask hybrid workers to spend more time in the office. This may be a good thing; at Fintech Connect Europe 2023, Ernst & Young partner David Williams explained some of the major problems of hybrid working culture and how firms can attempt to fix them.
Hybrid work may be ruining the office. Williams notes an "interesting new feature" to the office "where you have some people in the office booming out their voices with their headphones on." While that's no problem to extroverts, he notes that "introverts will run a mile from it." The solution comes down to the design of the office itself; "big open plan desks" won't work anymore, fintechs need more meetings rooms and soundproof booths. Payments giant Stripe combats this by ensuring teams consist only of those with the same working structure; remote workers will only be in teams with other remote workers and vice versa.
Williams says young people join companies "not for salary or to play ping pong, but to learn from mentors in the business." While EY has attempted remote shadowing to varying degrees of success, Williams says the true benefit of shadowing is "earwigging on a conversation and seeing how a senior colleague deals with a client or a difficult conversation." Remote employees have been able to do the same thing when companies ensure meetings via Zoom or Teams are recorded and saved, but it's an odd level of extraction for a similar if-not-worse result.
Employees having mental health crises may also go unseen while working at home. Williams says it's "harder with hybrid working and the pandemic to spot the ones that need guidance." Kate Bohn, former global head of private markets technology for Macquarie Asset Management, says the previously overlooked in-office incentives are becoming far more valuable to younger employees. Amid the cost of living crisis, they want "the cups of coffee, free breakfast" and to be "spending their day working on the company's electricity bill." It's not just about coming into the office, though, the work has to be different. Williams says, "people are not going to spend the money on a train fare and come to the office if they're going to sit there and do the same work they would do at home."
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