Insights - 15 October, 2022

Work From Home for Financial Advisors: Temporary Trend or New Reality?

The work-from-home concept has been on the rise for years, but it's never been more popular than it is now. Recent events have forced employers to reevaluate their policies on working from home. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people are working remotely full time. For some organizations, that’s a new trend, while others have been doing it for years. 

There are also occupations that have the necessity of employees' physical presence. In addition remote employment is posing difficulties for the elderly and those unfamiliar with computer technology. However, a new 'generation Z' is currently entering the employment market, thus all indications are that the home office concept will remain with us forever and we will never return to the way things were before the pandemic.

For many employees whose jobs aren’t tied to being in an office, the overnight move to working remotely posed no difficulty whatsoever, but after so much time, many cannot imagine ever returning to the office. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 56% of the US workforce have a job in which at least some of the tasks could be done remotely, while 5 million employees (3.6%) already work from home half-time or more.

While this may seem like a dream come true for some, there are pros and cons to working from home that either employees or financial services leaders should be aware of before making the switch.

Remote Work Advantages

In general, the WFM (work-from-home) model  is a flexible system that permits employees to perform their duties away from a central location. Some employees telecommute full-time, while others do their job remotely part-time or a few days a month. While the majority of remote employees work from home, they are also free to work in libraries, coffee shops, and coworking spaces. With the right planning and preparation, working from home can be a great experience for both financial services employers and advisors alike. 

1. Higher Productivity Levels

Working from home can help to improve employee productivity. Remote workers often have more flexibility and freedom when it comes to setting their own schedules, and they are less likely to be interrupted by colleagues or other distractions. 

As reported by Citrix, 93 percent of US employees believe remote work would enable them to better manage their time and spend additional hours on professional duties. While 68% of part-time staff indicated that work from home would allow them to get more done as they would lose less time commuting. 

2. Reduced Overhead Costs

One of the biggest advantages of working from home for the employer is that it can save on office costs. With fewer employees in the office, there is less need for space, and organizations can save on rent, utilities, and other overhead expenses. For instance, with a full-time remote workforce, a business can decrease its annual real estate costs by $10,000 per employee.

Companies also report fewer unplanned absences among remote employees. Staff can care for a sick child or attend a doctor's appointment without taking a full day off. Fewer absences can generate substantial savings for a financial services organization.

Over 1/3 of employees would take a pay drop of up to 5% in exchange for the ability to work from home at least part-time, 1/4 would accept a pay cut of up to 10 %, and 1/5 would accept an even bigger pay cut. (Owl Labs)

3. Increased Employee Satisfaction

The last FlexJobs statistics declared that an astounding 97% of the USA workforce say a job with flexibility would be a huge improvement or have a positive impact on their overall quality of life.

Due to a better work-life balance, remote workers often feel happier in their careers. Everyone has various obligations, and telecommuters value the ability to work whenever and wherever they choose. They won’t miss family dinner or won’t be late for a home party. Additionally, skipping the daily trip saves employees both time and money.

4. Easier Recruitment and Retention of Talent

Working from home gives both flexibility and greater salary opportunities for recruitment and employee retention. Global Workplace reports that the average yearly pay of remote workers is $4,000 greater than that of on-site workers.

It also increases the range of potential employers due to the big number of remote-only workers. Over 1/3 of SHRM respondents maintain that they need to work remotely, so they can take care of their children.

People with disabilities in traditional professions may also find more employment opportunities through telecommuting. For instance, those with limitations that prevent them from traveling or working long hours can pursue occupations in the financial industry remotely. 

5. Lower Stress Level

As there is no commuting involved, remote employers will also believe that working from home is the finest method because you do not have to deal with traffic. You may just wake up, grab a cup of coffee and your laptop, and begin working while sitting on your favorite couch. In fact, 82% of remote workers report lower stress levels as Premiere Global Services report.

Working from home can provide autonomy and independence in the workplace that may be lacking in a traditional office environment. No more loud talks and other distractions from colleagues, no uncomfortable business style suits, no traffic jams, and other challenges financial associates can find in a traditional on-site job.

Disadvantages Of WFM

1. Isolating Work Experience 

Unless the employee is an introvert, the inability to engage with coworkers might lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. According to Buffer research, 21% of remote workers admit that the biggest struggle of working from home is loneliness. 

Not being able to discuss project moments and assigned tasks with coworkers can result in boredom. Moreover, the enthusiasm for attending networking events diminishes day by day. And the lack of team-feeling among the advisors’ team members may increase.

2. Higher Levels of Distractions 

Another potential downside of working from home is that it can be harder to stay organized and motivated. It is extremely simple to lose focus when working from home, due to distractions such as children or a favorite show that airs during work hours. Being online for most of the day and having access to gaming and social networking sites might cause absent-mindedness.

Home distractions can interfere with a job done properly when you're not in a traditional work environment. The financial services employee would spend more time focusing and getting back to business, so working hours will increase.

3. Difficulty Maintaining Work/Life Balance 

One of the biggest challenges is maintaining work/life balance. Although working from home gives you the opportunity to manage your personal and professional lives, it can be difficult to maintain a clear line between the two when you're in the same place all day. 

Many home-workers are also concerned that they will have to sacrifice living space in order to establish a home office. This appears to be a real problem for people who already reside in a tiny space with pets or children.

4. Communication And Team-Building Issues

The minimal contact between supervisors and remote financial advisors might make relationship building difficult. You cannot simply visit an employee's office to ask a query or discuss the weekend. That is why remote workers attend more weekly meetings than on-site workers. Owl Labs says that 14% of remote workers spend time at more than 10 meetings weekly (vs. about 3% of on-site workers).

A vast number of remote workers have trouble forming relationships with coworkers. Similar to manager-employee interactions, it can be challenging for remote staff to connect with one another when they have limited in-person contact. If a team is composed of co-located and remote workers, there is the additional difficulty of ensuring that remote financial associates are not excluded from unexpected decisions and conversations occurring on-site.

5. Risk of Burnout 

Additionally, working from home can make it difficult to separate work and personal life, deal with an increasing amount of house chores and focus on your duties despite the distractions. If not organized the home working space and schedule employees may find themselves overloaded and stressed more than ever.

Furthermore, 62% of remote workers are concerned that their office-based coworkers believe they are not working as hard as they are (SHRM). All these factors can lead work-from-home employees to burnout.

According to the data we've collected, working from home is not a recent concept. Flexible employment arrangements have existed for a long time, and people have come to recognize their benefits.

In the contemporary world, we can only anticipate these numbers to increase. Therefore financial services companies must create effective and efficient work-from-home procedures, and employees should improve their remote working conditions.

Overall, whether or not working from home is right for a financial organization depends on its specific needs and culture. Employers should carefully consider the pros and cons before making the final decision. But one thing is certain, as evidenced by the work-from-home statistics we've compiled: the advantages of remote work outweigh its drawbacks.

If you want to understand all the intricacies of the WFM concept and stay ahead of the curve in finding top talent who can adapt to a quickly changing financial business environment, don't hesitate to book a conversation with Provision People. Our goal is to make the hiring process smooth and easy.