Legacy of COVID-19: Financial sector employers and employees share the same view on hybrid work

Employers and employees in the banking and finance sector believe that after the pandemic, the sector will continue with the hybrid model combining remote work and office time. This finding emerged in a survey for financial sector employees and employers examining the impact of COVID-19 on working culture.

Due to the coronavirus, nine out of ten financial sector employees switched to remote work. In the survey, employees felt very positively about continuing remote work after the pandemic: a large number of respondents (42%) would like to work remotely 2–3 days a week and one in four employees 4–5 days a week.

Of employer representatives, 60% estimated that remote work will continue 2–3 days a week in their company in the future. In large workplaces, the continuation of remote work on a large scale was viewed more positively, while small workplaces felt more reserved about the idea.

“The financial sector has enjoyed working remotely. The advantages have been increased flexibility, easier balancing of family and work, and more undisturbed working hours. Employers feel that employees have become more independent,” says Katja Repo, director on competence development and digitalisation at Finance Finland. Repo works as a project manager in the Financial Work 2030 (FinanssiTyö2030) project of financial sector employees and employers. The survey was conducted in connection with this project.

Women in particular reported experiencing improved well-being at remote work (54% of women respondents), more so than men (35%). The negative aspects of remote work that were most often mentioned included the difficulties in transferring tacit knowledge and integrating to the work community in the absence of informal encounters.

“Once returning to the workplace becomes possible on a large scale after the pandemic, we need to discuss how we can make the most out of hybrid work. For example, when should we be at the office at the same time to benefit from tacit information? Meeting colleagues face to face is still an essential part of workplace interactions”, Repo ponders.

Home office work requires more technical skills

The significant shift to home offices has increased demands on employees’ skills. Both employees and employers believe that there is much room for improvement, especially in the handling of remote working applications and the development of technical skills. Employers identified more new needs for developing skills than employees did.

“It’s not as easy to turn to a co-worker or the IT department for help at home”, Repo points out.

In January and February, 300 employee and 168 employer representatives responded to a survey conducted by Aula Research. The survey findings are supplemented by interviews.

The Financial Work 2030 project gathers information on new working practices and workplace innovations introduced in the financial sector, especially during the COVID-19 period, and disseminates the information both within and outside of the sector. Finance Finland and Service Sector Employers Palta are implementing the project in co‑operation with trade union UNIO, the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN, and Trade Union Pro.

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Katja Repo

Director, Competence Development and Digitalisation