Is Working From Home Fintech’s ‘New Normal’?: Analysis


Well, folks, it’s been over a month since coronavirus quarantines began–and there’s a whole lot of new normal going around: instead of bars and restaurants, people are eating at home; instead of going to shows, people are live-streaming concerts from home; Tinder dates have turned into FaceTime calls, and family gatherings happen in virtual Zoom rooms.

Perhaps the most significant new normal that many of us have experienced, however, is a serious reduction in commuting time to work.

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Instead of spending 25 minutes or more driving or riding the bus, many members of the workforce–particularly in the tech world–have shortened their transit time to work to something between 1 and 3 minutes, or however long it takes to migrate from the breakfast table to the home office (unless the breakfast table also happens to be the home office.)

For many, the first couple of days and weeks of working from home were a crash course in serious multitasking: those with children at home–particularly young ones–struggled to establish routines and balance between staying on task and staying sane.

Now, however–roughly seven weeks into the quarantine–it seems that routines are starting to settle into place; with lockdowns continuing indefinitely in many parts of the world, many have argued that working from home could continue even after the pandemic is over.

” Not all businesses have been willing to consider” working from home until the pandemic hit

Indeed, most of the developed world has been equipped with the ability to enable working from home for a number of years at this point–however, in spite of a number of studies that have shown that employees are more productive when they work from home, a number of companies have been reticent to make the shift.

However, crisis begets innovation: as author and philosopher Yuval Harari told RFI, “people don’t have the motivation to try and experiment, and then some crisis comes and forces them, and afterward, everything changes.”

“[…] People may be working from home, universities shifting courses online, this can certainly remain even after the crisis is over,” Harari said.

Indeed, David Mansell, co-founder and director of NEM Ventures (which has always been a completely remote firm), told Finance Magnates that the COVID-19 quarantine “had created an opportunity that not all businesses have been willing to consider or accept until this unfortunate pandemic.”

“Individuals have realized that those at home are not idly watching Netflix.”

Indeed, “with work-from-home guidelines likely to continue in many countries across the world in the medium term, I believe that we are likely to see a significant shift in attitudes towards the policy by both employees and employers,” he continued.

“Many companies are beginning to realize that the same, or even higher standards of team productivity can be maintained by employees working from home, meaning there is no longer the same fear held by employers of lost revenue by embracing the policy.”

Of course, “managing mental health appropriately will, of course, differ vastly between individuals and their own personal preferences,” Mansell said. “However, there are a few broad guidelines which can help generally.

“Communication is one key pillar: regularly talking to friends, family, and team members can help us stay grounded during these challenging times and provide us with an important outlet to express our own feelings.”

Additionally, “regular exercise is another important area which cannot be overstated; replacing a morning commute with an early morning walk or run is an effective way to fit exercise into your daily routine, and help create that division between work and home life.”

Once habits are formed, it’s just business as usual

And even if employees prefer to work in an office setting for mental health-related or other kinds of reasons, it might be quite some time before workers are allowed to return to their office buildings.

In the meantime, the world is continuing to ‘figure it out,’ day by day–though, in most cases, things are getting easier as time goes on.

“The challenges involved in working remotely tend to occur at the onset of operations when systems and processes are still being ironed out,” Mansell said. “Once processes become habitual, the typical difficulties involved in remote working (fragmented communication, technical issues, team connectivity) tend to be resolved quite quickly.”

Still, when quarantines are finally over, there’s likely going to be a serious need to celebrate and reconnect.

“There are, of course, occasions where face to face communication is important, and even as a remote working company, we usually try to schedule several meetings a year where team members can come together for key projects,” Mansell said.

Until then–see you online.

What have your experiences of working from home been like? Let us know in the comments below. Special thanks to David Mansell and the NEM Ventures team.

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