How fund operators can improve hybrid working environments
Joe LaFemina, Senior Manager, Outsourcing Services, SS&C | Advent offers his thoughts on how to overcome technology barriers in hybrid working environments and better manage employee needs.
Maya Sibul POSTED ON 10/25/2022 4:28:18 PM
Most firms have encountered barriers after implementing new technology to work from home and then bringing it back into the office. This phenomenon is something that Joe LaFemina, Senior Manager of Outsourcing Services at SS&C | Advent, has experienced first-hand. He says it was – and still is – a common problem that certain companies were better equipped to handle than others.
However, as hybrid working environments become the new normal, there are ways to improve productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.
Clear Path Analysis’s October 2022 report, “The Post-Pandemic Office: Operations, Technology, Outsourcing & Managed Services in the Investment Management Industry,” covers these issues with industry leaders at companies such as abrdn, SS&C | Advent, Mackay Shields LLC, and MetLife.
“We consolidated space in our New York office, and collaborations occur differently now, although frankly it has been much better overall.”
Often, companies with more resources available were better positioned to handle the shift to work-from-home. Organisations that already had a remote-working protocol set, for example, found it easier to adapt to these changes. “I would say that [we were] well positioned to work remotely because we had people who were remote-only workers and others who were already coming in part-time to the office,” LaFemina said. “We consolidated space in our New York office, and collaborations occur differently now, although frankly it has been much better overall.”
An unexpected factor that LaFemina did encounter, however, was dealing with the large number of virtual private network (VPN) licenses that were suddenly required for remote laptops. While this wasn’t a huge disruption – they quickly added more licenses – he added that surprises like these can become roadblocks for smaller companies.
And in this case, VPNs are critical because they increase cybersecurity when using the internet at home. A Deloitte article published during the pandemic found that hackers were "upping their game", developing "new malware to attack and infiltrate systems to capitalize on the shift to remote working." Before Covid-19, about 20% of cyberattacks used new malware. During the pandemic, however, that number jumped to 35%.
When it comes to the added stress caused by restructured teams and downscaled offices, LaFemina noted that real change takes time. “There is some minor pain as you empty your desk and move to a hotelling model,” he said of his own personal experience. “We’ve had many different equipment set-ups, depending on your role. But we did notice that when people returned to the office, they migrated back to the areas where they originally sat.”
“When you get different people sitting together, they’re able to have conversations they wouldn’t typically have.”
Still, LaFemina said that the hybrid working model is beneficial because it gives everyone increased flexibility, and it makes time spent in-office more meaningful. “When you get different people sitting together, they’re able to have conversations they wouldn’t typically have.”
Nurturing new talent
Maintaining flexibility is vital when it comes to attracting and maintaining new talent – especially as the talent pool gets younger and younger. “With the average age going down, people starting their careers with us post-pandemic don’t know what it was like before, so they will want that flexibility to be able to work remotely,” LaFemina said.
“We want to give them opportunities to collaborate and explore other areas around the firm.” He added that retaining talent is indeed more challenging when the job is performed remotely, especially because younger people are early in their career paths and still developing their goals and searching for direction.
“We run virtual career panels with senior leaders who talk about their journeys. It can be a motivator when younger staff members hear about what opportunities lie ahead.”
But, even so, there’s a lot a company can do to encourage cross-workplace engagement. “We run virtual career panels with senior leaders who talk about their journeys. We are lucky we have a number of senior people at SS&C who have been here for 20+ years, so it can be a motivator when younger staff members hear about what opportunities lie ahead.”
LaFemina’s insights showed that keeping employees focused and communicating helps ensure they feel supported, whether working in-person, in the office, or alone, at home. Meaningful interaction that transcends seniority barriers is also key and will be for years to come.
To see more of LaFemina’s comments and to read the interview in full and report in full, please click here.
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