By Jim Toes, President and CEO, Security Traders Association
I’ve never met anyone in our industry who wanted an average career with just some success. From elementary school and all the way up to their careers on Wall Street, individuals in our industry are overachievers with a desire for success. They also know that a key ingredient in achieving success is productivity. The more productive we are, the more successful we will become. Yet, these two realities are underweighted in the news reporting and casual conversations on the current topic of getting employees back into the office.
As the number of people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 tops 100 million and major cities begin opening up, firms across our industry are discovering that sending employees home to work remotely was much easier than getting them back into the office. The challenges include but are not limited to: ensuring safe work conditions, creating a positive and productive culture for new and existing employees, and offering work-from-home flexibility to certain employees. These challenges are exacerbated by constraints on office occupancy and competition from firms that can offer flexible remote work arrangements.
We work hard, have thick skin, overcome adversity and know that cutting corners only leads to failure in the long run. In almost all cases, the desire to work from home is rooted in a belief by the individual that doing so will make them more productive, not because they are any less committed to performing in their role and contributing to the success of their firm.
Despite herculean efforts by their firms, some employees are still hesitant to return to the office. These individuals are sometimes covertly or tacitly portrayed as being lazy, soft, afraid or just trying to get away with working less because they can. Our industry is not comprised of people with such character flaws. We work hard, have thick skin, overcome adversity and know that cutting corners only leads to failure in the long run. In almost all cases, the desire to work from home is rooted in a belief by the individual that doing so will make them more productive, not because they are any less committed to performing in their role and contributing to the success of their firm. The process of determining how to maximize our productivity is highly individualized and subject to unique circumstances.
We also understand the value of working in an office and how this unique environment contributes to our productivity. Intellectual stimulation from collaborating with co-workers, an energizing sense of comradery and the satisfaction of assisting junior colleagues in their career development – these are just some of the benefits. Even if these benefits are diluted due to fewer people being physically present in the office, they still factor heavily into the fundamental question: “How can I be the most productive?”
The year-long experience of working from home has changed our priorities and thus, our definition of success, but it has not impacted our desire to be productive to the greatest extent possible. Our hope is that going forward, employers, reporters and social media in general will view an employee’s request for flexibility not as an act of resistance, but one stemming from a well-informed belief that this will make them more productive.