As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many professional service firms to adopt remote work policies, we were lucky, we had experimented in this space before and were already running a hybrid model where people worked part time from home.

This meant when the pandemic hit the biggest issues we faced were that people needed better chairs and an extra monitor in their homes. A few calls to some couriers and all sorted.

Over time some employees have come to enjoy the flexibility and autonomy that comes with working from home and are resisting coming back when they are asked, or worse bosses are not asking for fear of losing staff (which is completely understandable in the current skill shortage environment). So, what should you do as a leader? Is full time work from home the future or a noose around a business’s neck?

The simple answer full-time work from home in financial planning firms is business suicide, not to mention career suicide for the employee.

There is a confidence from some business owners due to the fact that full-time work from home during the pandemic didn’t impact their business significantly and that employees valued it, so why not do it. Honestly, I wish it was, I would love to spend less time commuting and more time with my family, at the beach or shedding some well earnt kilos!

I think it is a trap though, performance will decline the longer the experiment persists. With current staff they have all already worked full time in the office and know each other and the company. As new hires enter, and people leave that benefit will quickly dissipate.

The solution is a hybrid work model – one in which employees spend at least 60 per cent of their time in the office – is ultimately the best option for financial planning firms and the people who work there.

First and foremost, the office environment provides opportunities for training and passive learning that simply cannot be replicated through a computer screen. In-person training sessions, team meetings, and informal conversations with colleagues all provide valuable opportunities for professional development and knowledge-sharing.

Something a simple of overhearing how directors/partners talk to clients on the phone is invaluable. These interactions are especially important for new employees, who may not have the same level of experience or established networks as their colleagues. By spending time in the office, professionals can take advantage of these learning opportunities and build relationships with their colleagues that can support their growth within the company.

In addition to the professional benefits of in-person interaction, the office also plays a crucial role in building company culture and fostering a sense of community. When employees work remotely full-time, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the company and its values. By spending time in the office, professionals can actively contribute to and shape their company’s culture and build personal connections with their colleagues. This sense of belonging and connection can be especially important in the financial planning s industry, where strong teamwork and collaboration are key to success.

Furthermore, the office environment can facilitate more efficient communication and collaboration. While video conferencing and other digital tools have certainly helped bridge the gap during the pandemic, there is still no substitute for the speed and clarity of in-person communication. By spending at least some of their time in the office, professionals can take advantage of the ability to quickly discuss projects and ideas face-to-face, which can help them get things done more efficiently.

Finally, the mental health benefits of separating work and home life should not be underestimated. While working from home can provide some flexibility and autonomy, it can also be challenging to maintain clear boundaries between work and personal life. By spending a portion of their week in the office, professionals can enjoy the benefits of a dedicated workspace and the sense of structure that comes with it. This can help them avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

While it is clear that full-time in the office is not the answer, a hybrid work model that incorporates both remote and in-person work can provide the best of both worlds. By returning to the office at least 60 per cent of the time, financial planning s workers can take advantage of the training, passive learning, and teamwork opportunities that the office environment provides, while still enjoying the flexibility and autonomy of remote work.

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