Culture Office

Why five days in the office don’t add up

James Long founded Longreach Capital, a boutique clean energy financial advisory firm in London right before the pandemic hit. His first hire was Julie Gimenez, who had been working on infrastructure investments at one of Europe's largest banks. As lockdowns started, James stayed in London while Julie moved to a sunnier city in southern Europe. Even now, Julie is still there while James operates the St James's Square office in London several days a week. While the firm has been successful in arranging some of the UK's largest green hydrogen financing deals, their working arrangements remain an ongoing conversation and hot topic. Both James and Julie agree that in-person work is necessary for certain tasks, such as client meetings, while remote work is fine for completing paperwork. They also agree that it's beneficial for younger staff members to work in person with more experienced individuals.

While there is some agreement on the productivity benefits of working from home and working in the office, there is less consensus on tasks that fall into the middle ground - for example, creating presentations for client meetings or team meetings. Some argue that such tasks should be done in person, while others believe they can be efficiently accomplished remotely. Studies have shown varying results regarding the productivity of remote work depending on the nature of the work and the industry. For call center staff, remote work resulted in increased productivity, while for graduates working in IT teams, productivity decreased sharply after abruptly shifting to remote work during the pandemic. 

A recent study by Stanford University economist Professor Nick Bloom found that a combination of remote work and office work resulted in no significant increase or decrease in productivity. However, worker satisfaction increased and attrition rates decreased. Bloom suggests that while remote work may impact productivity, it can also attract talent and lower office costs, and companies need to consider this trade-off when deciding on a remote work policy. For managers and professionals, a combination of remote and office work is beneficial, and returning to a five-day office workweek may not make sense. In conclusion, a new way of working will require ongoing dialogue and collaboration among professionals with different perspectives on remote work.

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