Back to Blogs
hybrid working
Share this Article

The Hybrid Working Debate in the Finance and Accountancy Industry

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 months ago

​It's common knowledge that remote and hybrid working wouldn't be as widely accepted now if it wasn't for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, nobody could predict that the future of work would be dominated by it and that it would change employee expectations of job offers, and recruitment, and even have a profound impact on Finance and Accountancy professionals.

We recently hosted a Hybrid Working Webinar in which Matt Whitton from our parent company Chilworth Partnership and Nadia Payne from Venture Recruitment Partners dissected the role that hybrid working plays post-pandemic – paying particular attention to the Finance and Accountancy sector.

Because of the pandemic, businesses had no choice but to embrace new ways of working which is why hybrid and remote working was introduced. However, it is now causing debate within the world of hiring and recruitment as organisations working across the UK are reducing levels of remote and hybrid working in a bid to move back to being office-based. Speaking to individuals in the accountancy profession and those working in UK finance, it's clear the UK workforce is pushing for a hybrid approach to work to continue. In this post, we'll cover the highlights of our webinar which you can watch here.

Pros:

  • A hybrid environment increases productivity as you're removed from office distractions. This is particularly useful for financial professionals during critical times of the year such as month-end and year-end.

  • Reduction in commuting costs for employees and improves work-life balance. Mental health and employee well-being suffers because of work-related commuting and pressures. Hybrid working could offer instant relief during the cost-of-living and mental health crisis. 

  • Those looking for their next role can look further afield if they're only in the office 2/3 times a week, exposing candidates to more opportunities. This is also a bonus for businesses as it increases the chance of finding the right hire by opening up your talent pool.

  • Businesses can operate a hot desk model and reduce office space and overhead costs.

  • When working from home, many finance professionals will use what would have been their commute time to log on earlier or work later.

Cons:

  • By reducing time in the office, team members who are working remotely may feel more isolated and feel less productive when working, especially if there are household distractions to contend with. It can also take longer for new hires to bond with the team if they are office-based and the rest of their colleagues are either adopting a hybrid approach at work or being fully remote.

  • Employees may not have a suitable computer/working station to accommodate a hybrid working model.

  • Professionals working in finance and management may find it harder to track whether employees are less productive when working remotely. It can also be harder to build a relationship with the team.

  • No VPN or Cybersecurity is a top concern as it could expose sensitive data to harmful sources.

  • Professionals in the UK who are studying ACCA, ACA, CIMA, and other qualifications find that productivity for study was boosted by hybrid working.

  • Those who still have to be fully office-based in the office feel hybrid working poses preferential treatment.

The UK's opinion on hybrid working is going to remain undivided. It's been 4 years since the widespread introduction of working fully remote or with a hybrid model and there is still uncertainty around whether it's a good idea.

According to a survey by CIPD, '6% of employees who have left a job in the last year have specified that it was due to a lack of flexible working', demonstrating that respondents in the UK feel that hybrid working plays an important aspect in the consideration to move to their next role. It also states that over half of respondents 'have a flexible working arrangement' and '71%' state they would want to work from home. The CIPD report demonstrates that our workforce sees working full time in the office as an unpopular opinion. 

Due to economic pressure and talent shortages, businesses have a newfound interest in recruitment and retention with efforts being made to improve relations between employees and employers to avoid staff leaving. It's the reason that particular attention and support are being offered to employees who feel their mental health suffers because of work pressures and hybrid working could go a long way in reducing that suffering and burnout. In our own survey, we found that 56% of hiring managers felt that hybrid working was the top aspect of the hiring process that needed attention. We have seen real demand from staff working in the finance and accountancy sector for hybrid and flexible work patterns to be made a permanent aspect of a salary and benefits package. 

Despite this, we've seen a rising amount of Finance and Accountancy teams in local SMEs implement a return to the office in a bid to boost face-to-face communication and accountability. We have also seen businesses wanting to avoid high levels of remote working and scrapping it completely. This has caused increased tension between employers and employees because working professionals in the finance and accounting sector want the option to work from home as they feel they are more productive. 

The concerns around mental health at work are paramount and the topic of preventing burnout in 2024 would benefit greatly from making hybrid working a staple in the UK world of work. It certainly offers food for thought for employers wishing to improve their hiring process. Overall, the effects of commuting and office distraction on mental health are stark, suggesting these are concerns to be addressed. By working in a hybrid fashion, employees can plan school drop-offs/pick-ups and important appointments more effectively. It also allows for more time to be spent at home due to reduced commute times. Rather than forcing staff to work fully office-based it's certainly worth it to embrace hybrid working patterns and home working as employee wellbeing is a top work concern for 2024.

Don't forget to keep an eye out on our Events Page or follow our Chilworth and Venture LinkedIn pages to stay in the loop with upcoming webinars.