When the pandemic struck in March 2020 forcing a world of workers to work from home it undoubtedly came as a surprise.
A novelty for some and a nuisance for others, workers from the majority of industries were moved onto a dining room table and told to not to leave. 17 months on and the majority remain as rather than being a temporary measure, it became the new normal – but is that new normal here to stay?
While it served as a surprise for many, it did not require much of transition. At least, not in the corporate world. Companies had been using communications software to interact with a growing employee base and international audience for some time, millennials had been long fighting for the right to work from home and those who already had access to a phone, tablet, laptop or smart TV began using it for work as well as pleasure. It was strange but it was easy. The world appreciated extra time while the cost-saving was monumental.
The same story did not apply for everyone however and for Family Offices in particular, it provided a sizeable challenge.
Commonly employing less than five and typically residing in small, serviced offices in the heart of the city or in the homes of the very Principals that lead them, Family Offices are not corporate machines. They do not employ communications software, they do not tend to offer remote working as a standard and as technology-laggard cost-functions, they did not have the framework or an idea of how to go ‘remote’. These are technologically-apathetic leaders who appreciate handshakes, routine and meetings over coffee.
With that in mind, the shift was far from easy as 91% of Family Offices moved to remote working for the very first time, over 50% of which were forced to implement new technology as a result. But while on the surface it might seem that Family Offices have adjusted to the times; they are patiently awaiting a move back into the office which for some, cannot come soon enough.
We decided to interview a selection of our clients who are currently recruiting professionals for their Family Office. We asked them if they were open to the idea of a virtual hire or, flexible in the number of days their next hire would need to physically attend their workplace and while the majority of our clients stated that they were open and willing to remote hires if they were exceptional and the right cultural fit – it did however come with a caveat of time.
While Family Offices are offering remote working to their professionals today in line with government guidelines, it is an offering which comes with an expiry date and we think the corporate world won’t be far behind us either.
While Remote Working has offered a huge advantage to both companies and their employees, from accelerating globalisation to enabling work-life balance, businesses thrive from human interaction and Family Offices come with the additional prerequisite of control.
Family Office Leaders like to not only host an intimate and collegiate culture but they also like control their workforce and this is something hard to attain when your professionals are working sporadically across the country. Equally, the novelty of home-working has worn off for the majority of professionals in our network and with conferences on the agenda, evening meals planned and travel almost upon us, we think professionals will be queuing up to return to the office in just a few weeks’ time when the academic year resumes and Family Office Leaders will be ready and waiting.
Family Offices will never forget the vast benefits of working from home and the incredible impact it has had on talent, cost-saving and global opportunities but while they may appreciate the move in the context of a pandemic, remote working is certainly not here to stay as nothing beats culture and in the world of Family Offices, culture is everything.