How FinTechs Can Create the Ideal Hybrid Workplace (Davoud Pourhossein)

Recent years have seen one of the most dramatic and quick changes to the working world over the course of history. Almost overnight we went from (broadly) being at our desks in the office from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, to working exclusively from our homes, often at the kitchen table. As we’ve started to build our way back to a new normal, most employees want both the flexibility of working from home and the social interaction, networking, and team collaboration offered by in-office.

Businesses considering reintroducing pre-COVID workplace norms risk losing employees as the ability to work from both the office and home is a high priority for workers. If businesses fail to offer it, many will likely seek employment in a workplace which does.

So, what do fintech companies need to do to ensure they create the ideal hybrid work environment that is fitting for their culture, will enhance productivity and boost the wellbeing of employees?

Avoid proximity bias

If employers are offering hybrid working to employees, they need to be fair about it. Proximity bias describes how those with decision-making power tend to treat workers who are physically closer to them/with them in-person on a regular basis. It arises from the notion that those who work remotely are less productive than those in the office. Which, as

increased output
during the covid lockdowns demonstrated, is untrue.

While it’s partly the responsibility of the remote working employee to remain visible to managers, it’s also the manager’s responsibility to ensure that every employee receives equal opportunity and recognition. There must be an awareness of the natural tendency towards proximity bias, and measures must be taken to ensure there is no favourable treatment of people who work from the office regularly, and that people who choose to work remotely are not penalised.

Provide secure tech

When employees are geographically dispersed, data security and privacy are critical considerations for all fintech companies. IT managers need to ensure that employees’ remote working set ups are made correctly, with the necessarily integration of multi-factor authentication and secured cloud access.

There is an expanded area for cyber-criminals to attack, and therefore there are ample opportunities for these attacks to occur. Furthermore, all cybersecurity activity has moved beyond the traditional perimeter defences, such as firewalls and intrusion-detection systems, that organisations had in place to protect themselves from cyberattacks.

It’s also crucial that fintechs prioritise the communication and education of security in order for employees to avoid basic mistakes that may result in a security breach. Careful and deliberate training and management can ensure many popular security vulnerabilities associated with hybrid working are avoided.

The important takeaway is that in a hybrid setting, a holistic approach to cybersecurity is required. A combination of both the correct infrastructure and education of employees to avoid human errors, is the best strategy for avoiding cyberattacks and to protect your business.

Prioritise employee wellbeing and avoid burnout

A recent study[1] revealed that 53% of employees – particularly parents (55%) and women (56%) – are more likely to prioritise their health and wellbeing over work than before the pandemic.

Managers should ensure that employees who choose to work remotely at least some of the time, aren’t subjected to the attitude that remote work equals ‘always on’. Rather than a drop in productivity, the first wave of remote work showed an increase in output, and studies suggested workers conducted much longer workdays.

While increased productivity may initially sound appealing, it’s not sustainable. The immediate accessibility of colleagues to one another, as well as hours of video calls and screentime, contributed to waves of employee burnout across the workforce globally. Ensure that your remote employees aren’t working significantly longer hours than their in-office counterparts, and that they understand the importance of moving, getting fresh air, and giving eyes a rest from screens. These may sound basic, but they’re often forgotten.

Maintain a sense of culture by creating opportunities to socialise

A danger of having a dispersed workforce is that it can become fragmented. People working from home will mostly communicate with their direct teams, missing out on the chat and broader team building that arises from working in the office. Research undertaken during COVID revealed that 73% of employed people said they missed socialising in person.[2]

This lack of contact can have a knock-on effect on employee mental health. Microsoft’s 2022 New Future of Work Report found that remote work can lead to employees feeling

“socially isolated, guilty and trying to overcompensate”

With health and wellbeing being a higher priority for many workers, a lack of socialising, networking and team building opportunities could lead some to seek employment elsewhere. Employers must thus create opportunities for ‘extracurricular’ employee contact if they are to maintain workforce wellbeing and ultimately maximise retention.

Embrace asynchronistic work

The main factor attracting workers to the hybrid model is flexibility. Lean into flexibility further by allowing, or even embracing, asynchronous work. This means not requiring remote employees to do their working hours 9-to-5.

Clearly there will be times when synchronistic work is required, such as meetings or working together towards an imminent deadline. However, some people work more efficiently in the early hours of the morning, some in the evening, and others if they go on a two-hour mid-morning run.

Businesses that reject a rigid 9-5 structure for remote workers will reap the benefits of enabling employees to work when they will be sharpest, or most productive. The added flexibility will also attract talent in an extremely competitive market.

There is no blueprint

In conclusion, there is no set blueprint or one-size-fits all formula for establishing a hybrid-work environment that best works for every fintech company.

However, if leaders of fintech companies can keep these key considerations in mind as they clarify and polish their hybrid workplace culture and processes, they will be a greater place to avoid mistakes and to reap the benefits.

If these considerations are carefully acknowledged and addressed, a well-balanced and well-designed hybrid work environment can result in increased employee engagement, satisfaction and ultimately, business performance.





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