It’s no secret that demand for flexibility in the workplace is increasing. Even in Banking and Financial Services, negotiating for flexible hours or the ability to work remotely is on the rise.
People are moving further away from major city hubs for more affordable housing and, correspondingly, there has been a growing trend of people wanting the ability to work from home in some capacity.
With the advent of Agile working in the marketplace a lot of the large domestic Banks have moved away from static office space and are allowing their people to be more flexible. However, it is not widely promoted and is still a work in progress.
TECHNOLOGY AND TRUST
Of course, remote working can be more challenging for some roles than others in banking but regardless of responsibility, portable technology is key.
The Regional Head of Compliance for a major bank summed up the issue succinctly in a recent conversation, “Anybody can do any job in the world with a laptop, phone and trust.”
The reality is not all companies have that mindset, with larger investment banks in particular preferring their people to be in the office. Information security plays a large part in that approach, along with a more conservative view of how business should be done.
GIVE AND TAKE
If flexibility is what it takes to attract or retain high-performing talent then companies have little to lose.
Two recent examples come to mind from financial institutions I work with that got the balance right in order to retain high-performing employees;
NEGOTIATING: WORK THROUGH THE LOGISTICS
Negotiating to work remotely is not only something I have done on behalf of my candidates but also myself.
I have been with Kelly for over five years and 18 months ago I had a conversation with my Director to advise I was looking into a move to Singapore for personal reasons. If possible, I wished to continue working for Kelly Executive, given Singapore is our regional hub in APAC.
Taking into account factors such as my tenure with the company, internal relationships and my established client base, it was an option he was open to. Once we worked through the logistics we put in place some agreed procedures to ensure there was minimal disruption to my role.
Having confidence to embrace flexible working arrangements all comes down to communication and trust.
With the advent of video technology I can stay in contact with my colleagues, clients and candidates on a daily basis. Whilst after five years I no longer sit beside my Director, we are constantly in contact via the phone and video conferencing to keep each other up to date. In reality we probably talk more now than when we sat in the same office!
BE FLEXIBLE WHEN NEGOTIATING FOR FLEXIBILITY
If you’re a manager:
Flexibility is another tool you can use to entice top tier candidates to work for you.
Judge every case on its merits. Working remotely is not suitable for everyone, especially if you need a team environment to succeed. As long as there is trust in the relationship then it can be a positive way to keep top performers within your business regardless of their geographic location.
If you’re a candidate:
Be willing to compromise. For many employers flexible working is still a relatively new concept and they may not have standard policies and procedures around it. Don’t give ultimatums; if you can’t be flexible, don’t expect your company to be.
Work out as many of the logistics and mechanisms for how it will work such as managing different time zones, regular catch-ups with your manager etc…. before you broach the subject. Once you have a broad overview of what you want and how it will work, then discuss it with your manager. If you haven’t looked at the finer detail or have a sound argument for why and how working flexibly could be a success, then don’t expect your manager to do the hard work on your behalf.
Also, be sure that it suits you and your work style. I have always been quite driven and focused and this is one of the reasons my move has been a success. Other people prefer working in a busy office as it drives them, while some are at their best when they are in a quiet environment and can focus with fewer distractions.
No matter the scenario, the most important factor for the set up to succeed is to make sure you still get your job done.
Not only can you get the job done, but you could thrive. Working remotely should not be a hindrance to career development. Read tips on how managers can support their remote employees’ careers in the latest Kelly Insights article.
Author: Liam Parker is a Principal Consultant at Kelly Executive.