Hybrid working is here to stay; fintech leaders must adapt

By Peter Boolkah
Business coach Peter Boolkah says hybrid working is here to stay – but many leaders rely on 'presenteeism' and are still reluctant to let go of the reins.

Implementing flexible working is one of the biggest challenges facing business leaders. Undoubtedly, the hybrid working model, where the team splits their working week between home and office, is creating a higher workload for fintech companies and their HR departments. UK government figures state that so far in 2022, the proportion of people ‘hybrid working’ has been consistently rising, while the proportion of those working from home exclusively has fallen. Whilst hybrid working benefits both the employee and ultimately the employer in the long term, it presents challenges for CEOs and founders in implementing it successfully and protecting the profitability of the company. These difficult times have seen more leaders work with independent outside sources such as business coaches and consultants in a bid to move forward and ensure their growth trajectory continues.

We know the labour market has changed due to the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The great resignation, which resulted from the pandemic, caused a tightening of the market. If you are currently employed within the fintech industry the chances are you have access to a flexible working pattern now. However, some CEOs have fought the flexible working changes and, as a result, some have found that they are not able to attract and retain top talent. Despite the talk around the fintech unicorn 'Klarna' recently reducing its workforce by 10%, there is still a competitively high demand for quality staff and those companies that offer flexible working conditions will often be the ones that secure the best workforce as opposed to their competitors who do not.

‘Some CEOs are frightened to let go of the reins’

Hybrid working relies heavily on a model of trust. Historically, we have all been sat in an open-plan office in front of our screens every day for a set number of hours and then we commute home. Team leaders could come and look over our shoulders if they suspected problems or inefficiency. That level of control has gone. Some industry CEOs are frightened of letting go of the reins. Their management style relies heavily on presenteeism or being visible within an office setting from 9am to 5pm every day. Having people visibly sat at a desk does not mean they are more productive. What ensures productivity within a company is clearly set out company core values, a five-year forward plan, identifying the right roles needed to fulfil that five-year plan, and targeted recruitment.

Hybrid working is a challenge because it requires a company set up that allows the person to work as easily from home as within an office space. Video conferencing has been an issue and some companies are having to ensure that new systems are implemented to facilitate hybrid working. Extra coordination is needed to set up meetings with those in the office and those working remotely. If it is not handled properly, it can lead to breakdowns in communication. Leaders and managers must work harder to ensure connectivity between colleagues. Relationships still need to be nurtured and ways of ensuring this is happening need to be carefully thought out and monitored. Finally, corporate culture needs to be a consideration when your team is working half in the office and half the time from home.  As a growth fintech business, you need to ensure that your company ethos is attractive and solid. That will ensure that you continue to attract the top talent within the industry.

These issues are new considerations and before any CEO or founder sits down with their management, they need to have clearly defined the answers to these issues independently. Many CEOs find it unhelpful to have difficult, complex and often confidential discussions with members of their team. The reason there are more founders working with business coaches is because those forward planning conversations need to be bottomed out before going in front of your management or senior leadership team. Coming to that team with a clear idea of how to navigate hybrid working ensures that you are in a better position to have conversations with them about managing it and ensuring productivity.

The nature of work is fundamentally changing

Suzi Read is the director of talent development, diversity, equity and inclusion at Kindred Group, an online gambling company, and she told the FT recently: “People are fundamentally changed. A lot of organisations are underestimating what people have been through and [they need] the chance to take stock, to find out what their values are, and make sense of stuff.”

The figures indicate that hybrid working is here to stay but this fundamental change in the way in which companies and their teams are operating is continuing to provide big challenges for senior leaders and CEOs and their continuing growth within the fintech industry. Along with a difficult economy and supply chain issues, CEOs and leaders feel that, if they fail to navigate hybrid working, then it could have negative implications on the running of their businesses and subsequently their profit margins and growth.

About the author: Peter Boolkah is an award-winning business coach with 30 years' experience in helping leaders and founders to upscale and grow their businesses in the UK and US. By working with CEOs and founders, he enables them to lead their teams and businesses effectively to ensure growth and profit.  

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