Many businesses are expected to allow staff to work more fluidly going forward, as the pandemic reshaped our thoughts around employment practices.
However, not all employees have the same systems and structures in place at home that they do in the office which has altered functions and performance.
So this week, Mortgage Solutions is asking: How has bank staff working from home affected your own operations so far and how might it impact them going forward?
Banks are going to have to drastically improve the way they manage people working from home. I don’t think it’s worked at all. In fact, it’s got worse with many lenders.
I suspect the huge increase in applications due to the stamp duty holiday has distorted things as well. Unless that drops dramatically or they manage to work better from home, I think they need to get staff back in the office.
With all due respect, I think it’s the lower level employees causing some delay. Using myself as an example, I was in investment banking before I started mortgage broking.
When I was in my early 20s I worked on a banking desk with more experienced colleagues who I learned from.
They were a couple of tables away and whenever I was stuck on something, which was pretty regularly, I leaned over my shoulder and just asked them. And that was something I probably did several times an hour.
All of a sudden, people who are in that position are taken away from their desks with good IT systems and support and are probably around the kitchen table with other people trying to use the Wi-Fi. Maybe a couple of them are furloughed so they’re distracting them.
And crucially, there’s no one around to ask questions.
As a trainee, junior staff member or someone without managerial responsibilities, being in touch with senior colleagues on a daily or hourly basis is very important to be able to do your job.
Now if they don’t know the answer, they either don’t answer it, try to and get it wrong or they just get it wrong completely. I know for some of the banks that has been a big problem.
All of that has broken down so they need to get back into the office to improve their systems.
Working from home is great when it is utilised properly. Having the ability to manage your work-life balance is great.
This year has been a learning curve for everyone.
With every bank and building society changing their process to fit the new normal there have been some issues along the way.
Service has been hit dramatically. A number of the main high street banks couldn’t cope initially, but have managed to sort their problems out and are now back to business as usual.
It’s also affected solicitors with big firms having let down a few of my clients.
It has resulted in longer application to offer times which has left some clients on high standard variable rates or having to pay for second surveys as initial surveys became out of date.
I’ve also seen purchases delayed due to legal searches taking longer to be returned. In certain cases, this has resulted in having to wait for new tax calculations being produced to extend offers.
Going forwards I expect things to return to normal, with people eventually returning to offices in the near future.
It works when done properly.
For example, prior to the pandemic Private Finance was already implementing a hybridised working model, enabling staff members to work from home a day or so a week if they desired to.
The back office team were quick to improve and implement systems that made this possible. Put simply, it has been a great success.
Staff have enjoyed the improved work–life balance, with parents able to spend more time with children and the like.
And productivity has been significantly improved, with commuting times taken out of the equation people can work on their terms and start early if that’s what they prefer or a bit later and finish later.
The one area that has proved tricky is training new staff, as video calls are not as engaging as being in the room together and of course all staff miss the social aspect of work. I suspect that will be the same for the banks.
Moving forward we will also be keeping the hybridised working model in place, ensuring staff get the best of both worlds.
We believe the rigidity of pre-pandemic working models is no more and this situation has accelerated changes that were in the pipeline by a number of years, ultimately we believe for the better.