One of the most lasting effects of 2020 across all industries was the move for many employees to a work-from-home arrangement. With the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine and other improvements, some workers have returned to their offices, but for many, remote working remained part of their permanent schedule. For some it may be a part-time situation, with some days at home and some in the office, but some companies fully embraced the remote working model.
For independent financial professionals, the traditional office space has never been the only viable option. For many advisors, working from home may have been how they got started as an independent, and even for those who maintain an office space, the age of digital communications has meant that the office conference room is not as vital as it once was to keep in contact with prospective and existing clients. So what are some of the benefits of transitional to remote working beyond the pandemic necessity?
The most obvious is that you can work from anywhere. The flexibility of being able to log in to take care of items or answer emails while traveling allows for more options in a work-life balance. Perhaps a longer trip is suddenly a possibility because you’re able to work from the beach house but still enjoy the water and excitement in the evenings and on weekends, rather than having to schedule a short vacation so you can rush back to the office to stay connected. There are also the saved costs of commuting, and as you are your own boss, making your own hours may make more sense with your family if you have the option of working from your home office during the day.
Another benefit is an increased access to your clients. Because you’ll be set up to use technology in a way that makes it simpler to connect, you can have virtual meetings with clients at any time rather than relying on your clients setting aside the extra time to come into your offices. It’s not only younger clients who are comfortable using technology to meet with advisors; clients of all ages are likely able and willing to work with you remotely, particularly in an age of electronic signatures and emails. As the most critical part of your job is working with clients, this is a person-to-person activity—it doesn’t need to rely on just one method of communication and connection. You know your clients, and you can work with your clients to help them learn new technologies that will ultimately benefit them as well. The same benefit to you of being able to work anywhere applies to your clients; now they don’t have to come into your office since they can hop onto a virtual meeting to accomplish the same thing.
Lastly, studies show that remote working can make someone more rather than less productive, as had been previously thought. Working from home can introduce less stress, which leads to fewer sick days and more productive time spent working each day. In a survey in December 2020, advisors were clearly confident that working remotely did not impact their relationship with their clients, with nearly over 40% saying they’d prefer to work from home at least three days out of the week permanently.
However, going fully remote isn’t for everyone. You may find that for your practice, the traditional office is what works for you. Or perhaps you’d be best suited by a flexible schedule that finds you working from the office sometimes, from home sometimes, and then from a coffee shop sometimes. However you do it, make sure that you set yourself up for success by testing what works for you. This may mean setting clear office hours, even while working from home, making sure you have an efficient, healthy workspace set out in your home, or by easing into remote working as a permanent solution in slow increments. Most importantly, you should make sure you have the support in place to help you maintain your remote working style. This means having infrastructure from a back office that can be there whenever you have questions, as well as can offer you technology solutions that will work well if you make the decision to go remote.
However it works out, the best thing about it all is that as an independent financial professional, you have the freedom to make these choices yourself. Whether it’s your office hours, the color of your office walls, or whether you opt to have an office at all, being independent means knowing you’re in charge of it all.