How the financial sector is returning to the office

With more and more covid 19 restrictions eased, many employees across the UK and US are making a way back to the office.

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With more and more covid 19 restrictions eased, many employees across the UK and US are making a way back to the office. Whilst most industries are realising that they can operate remotely, some firms and their sectors are more accustomed to being in the office in order to operate, and this includes the financial district of London and New York.

For some working in finance, the return to the office is nothing new. Many companies were deemed as “essential workers” during this time, due to the highly sensitive nature of client information. Or perhaps it was due to company policy that still required employees to come into their investment banks and private equity firms, even if covid was still looming around.

Finance firms made necessary adjustments by opening windows, wearing masks, spacing out desks and using protective screens between workstations.

Hybrid of Working in the Office and Remotely

But given the huge savings of having staff work remotely, there is a strong business case to keep some workers still working from home or temporarily. The potential savings include office space, electricity, IT systems, insurance, food and general office equipment.

So there is a real likelihood that we will see a hybrid of both office and remote working, with people only going in on certain days of the week or for certain presentations, proposals or to see clients.

David Pierson, Director of Omba Advisory, a family office in London, commented:

“Following UK government guidelines in March 2020 Omba activated Business Continuity Protocols with the entire team working from home. Operationally this was easily achieved as all systems are cloud based and we didn’t experience any no downtime or operational issues. Daily video calls were put in place with the team to discuss priorities, daily work and maintain camaraderie.”

“As restrictions have eased and the vaccine rollout has gathered pace, staff have been returning to the office as they are comfortable. Although the business continued to operate remotely it’s been great to have team members back to interact and experience the new energy of being back in our new offices in Southwark.”

“We’d expect this hybrid model to continue with people being able to work from home a day or two a week as they need but also have the benefits of the office available for interaction or team meetings.”

What a Return to the Office Might Look Like

The return to the office may not look exactly the same as pre-coronavirus. There is a greater focus on health, safety and personal hygiene and all office spaces will need to be fully equipped with readily available hand sanitiser, deep cleaning or ventilation systems.

Additionally, collaborative spaces may have a different structure or a limited capacity in order to avoid the crossover of multiple people.

How we interact in the workplace may also look a little different. Large-scale events, conferences or meetings may not be immediately possible or you may need to pass a rapid covid test before attending.

Certainly travelling abroad for work, something that is very common in finance and banking, is likely to be on hold for quite some time.

A lot will still depend on the smooth rollout of vaccinations and the hope that there is not another wave of cases or further lockdowns caused by additional variants of the coronavirus.