The gradual and partial return to offices in a hybrid work world presents challenges and some potential opportunities.
The hybrid work model many corporates were leaning toward last spring as the vaccine rollout began and infection rates dropped appears to have solidified as companies confronted the curveball sent by the Delta Covid-19 variant.
- Some treasury team members are itching to return while others are lobbying to stay home; with staff turnover reaching all-time highs at some companies, it’s critical to find solutions that satisfy as many people as possible.
- As many corporates adapt to hybrid work, some are trying to take advantage of potential opportunities presented by the new reality.
- Those takeaways emerged at a recent meeting of NeuGroup for Mega-Cap Assistant Treasurers.
Remote synergies. Noting that the Delta variant resulted in a new set of work-from-home mandates just days before his company’s scheduled return to the office, an industrial company’s assistant treasurer (AT) said his treasury team is considering how to take advantage of remote work.
- “We support a captive finance company that’s hundreds of miles away from us, so could we have more cross-sharing of talent and positions between treasury and the captive, without having to move or even source talent from there?” he said.
- “So we’re thinking about how that may change in a more virtual environment and about employee engagement in general.”
- A peer acknowledged exploring similar synergies with his company’s captive.
Hybrid in flux. For global companies, different jurisdictions have different and changing rules and recommendations around returning to work. One member noted that the company’s team in Singapore had briefly returned to the office full-time, but the recent outbreak has everybody working remotely again.
- Echoing ideas discussed last spring, one company’s AT said employees have returned to the office in small groups on a voluntary basis, and a hybrid model involving two or three days in the office is in the works.
- But the CEO is “very keen” on no management mandates and leaving the return to employees’ discretion, complicating the setup of in-person meetings and other events.
- A peer at a major technology firm said the current expectation is that employees will return to the office just one day a week, so now his team is working on optimizing the remote connection and how to keep employees performing at a high level and maintain team cohesiveness around the world.
- “There’s lots of company support for wireless events, just to make sure people are getting away from their desks,” he said.
Vaccination push. Two ATs said their companies anticipate employees returning the office in November, at least to some degree. But while some workers are eager to get back, others prefer working from home, an issue still to be worked through.
- One motivator may be requiring everyone to be vaccinated. All US employees of a business services firm must be vaccinated by November 15, said the AT, adding that date was supported by 90% of employees in a recent survey. “That is a part of their longer-term vision of how we get back to the office.”
Staying remote. Only one AT said remote work was the future at her company.
- “We’re not going back to the office; most of our employees will remain remote,” she said, adding that has been very well received by employees overall and the treasury team.
- Well, maybe not entirely remote. The company will retain some flagship offices to be used to “drive culture and collaboration,” she said, where employees go for project work or career discussions, “maybe a team meeting here or there.”