During the pandemic many firms, large and small, canvassed their people to identify how much they preferred the “new ways of working” and how much they wanted to “go back to the office”. Many either deliberately or accidentally set an expectation that working from home might be an acceptable norm. In asking how many days a week people might want to attend the office, an expectation was created.
Little thought appears to have been given to how an employer might provide a “proper working environment”, how they would adhere to local council tax issues, if domestic, public liability and professional indemnity insurers would be happy and how Health and Safety monitoring might operate.
As inclusivity becomes a core regulatory requirement, how do firms avoid those at home feeling excluded? How do we avoid creating two speed career paths and how do we ensure that this does not create a gender divide and make sure all voices are heard?
For me, we work in a relationship led industry. Technical skills and quality processing are important, but we are a regulated sector with principles that require firms to have culture that works top down and bottom up. I struggle to see how this can be achieved by remote working unless there is serious investment in regular team and leadership meetings at a scale we have not seen routinely.
I wait to be proved wrong – but leaders need to think carefully about the long-term shape and culture of their businesses.
Robert Sinclair, AMI Chief Executive