Lessons from Lockdown: #3 Productivity during the pandemic

Posted by KEA Consultants

December 16, 2020

Lessons from Lockdown

 #3 Productivity during the pandemic

The ‘new normal’ of home working forced on us by the global pandemic looks set to be with us for some time to come. Pre-pandemic, many organisations and managers believed working from home would negatively affect productivity. But is this really the case? In this piece we examine productivity levels in the buy-side investment industry over the last few months.

A positive picture

Almost everyone we spoke to said that productivity has been higher since working from home.  Some struggled in the very beginning of lockdown. However, once they had a month or so to tease out complications and get the entire team onboarded to the new IT infrastructure, it was relatively seamless. Many firms have invested in equipment and software to help team members work more comfortably from home.

Reducing travel time

Removing the commute has reduced stress and boosted efficiency. People can log on immediately and are ready to work straight away. Another increase in productivity has come from a reduction in travel. Most believe that using VCC has been just as effective as face-to-face meetings and welcome the break from travelling.

Post-pandemic, most investment professionals hope that travel will be managed more thoughtfully. They recognise that some travel will still be needed, but believe travel solely for deal purposes should be reduced. Scaling down travel will have a two-fold impact – on the industry’s carbon footprint, which features heavily in many company’s CSR policies, and on employees’ work/life balance.

Finding focus

Many of our respondents found that they could work in a more focused way at home. Lots of professionals commented on how much easier they found it to concentrate away from the distractions of the main office space, especially on more demanding tasks, such as setting up a deal.

In the future, to boost productivity, we suggest that businesses attempt to keep certain days as free as possible from calls and meetings so that investors can work from home on tasks that demand high focus levels, such as modelling.

Location, location, location

Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working in the home country of your office. For professionals who have family outside the UK, the flexibility of working from different locations has been a major plus. Many were able to base themselves in their home country, which allowed them to spend quality time with their families for extended periods and still remain productive.

Happy people are productive people

Removing the commute, reducing travel time and giving people the option to work away from the main office have all had a positive effect on productivity. The key learning from this experience is that productivity is linked to happiness. Contented employees work harder and are more focused. Listening to your team and understanding their experiences during the pandemic will help firms create better policies and practices that will positively impact people and their productivity.



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