Best Places to Work firms navigate the lockdown

Last week InvestmentNews unveiled its 2021 Best Places to Work for Financial Advisers list, featuring 75 firms that focus on creating workplaces that encourage individual development as well as a supportive team spirit. 

Best Places firms were all faced with the same challenge as other U.S. companies when the pandemic shuttered offices about a year ago. Most said they adjusted quickly, moving employees home to work and learning how to remotely communicate with clients and one another from new offices headquartered at dining room tables. 

Firms that had already implemented digital workflows within the company and with clients said it was surprisingly smooth. All firms took slightly different tacks in trying to make the switch palatable for employees, both from a technology standpoint and in their efforts to uphold firm culture and spirit.

Common adjustments included providing computers and other technology, offering new financial reimbursements for cellphones and high-speed internet, extending 2020 vacation allotments to this year, and creating remote onboarding procedures for clients and staff. Most firms quickly realized the need to hold remote companywide and team meetings — and to do so more often than they held these confabs in person, because it’s that much more difficult to keep people feeling connected and energized. 

One of the more interesting support efforts occurred at Cassaday & Co., which provided employees with up to $5,000 in assistance per employee to offset extra childcare costs, $100 spa gift cards and a Halloween bucket of goodies.

Some firms offered help with the cost of technology or other tools employees needed to make it easier to work from home, while others offered fitness distractions, like Skyeburst, which moved its weekly employee yoga classes online. 

Gibson Capital created virtual game night competitions, provided Blue Apron cuisine and even sponsored a remote “Shower in a Box” to mark staff members’ weddings.

MORE REMOTE WORK

Best Places firms said their businesses are succeeding, even though they aren’t back in their offices full-time at this point, about 51 weeks after the pandemic shut down businesses that require in-person contact, like restaurants. 

But returning to the office has meant different things to individual firms. 

Those that have brought back some of their employees have new office features like plexiglass around reception areas, sanitation stations, improved air ventilation systems and fewer chairs in conference rooms. Advice businesses are also trying out various schedules to minimize the number of employees working together in the same space.

For instance, True North Advisors went back using a rotating schedule where employees work from home for two weeks and then are back in the office for one week. 

Many advice firm CEOs tell InvestmentNews that even after Covid-19 concerns are behind us, they recognize they will need to accommodate a lot more remote work than in pre-pandemic days, as employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility and built it into their work habits and schedules. 

But we’ll bring you a lot more on that next week in InvestmentNews’ one-year anniversary special report on The New Normal.

The post Best Places to Work firms navigate the lockdown appeared first on InvestmentNews.

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