Survey: Pandemic changes to work environment likely to linger

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Managers of funds investing in asset-backed securities (ABS) that dislike the work-from-home (WFH) environment common since the onset of the coronavirus had better learn to adapt, because the situation will most likely continue for a while.

The results of a recent survey by Seward & Kissel of C-Suite executives and general councils at alternative investment managers found that half of respondents believe their firms’ workforce will return to offices prior to Q4 2020 and 89% no later than year-end. However, only 33% of participants at firms with more than 100 employees anticipate a full return before 2021, while 56% of firms with fewer employees do.

Nevertheless, respondents foresee working from hom at least part of the time. Seward & Kissel notes that large financial services firms such as JPMorgan have already considered implementing more permanent WHF polices, and that 53% of respondents said their firms already had a WFH policy or allowed them to WFH.

“Moving forward, almost three-fourths of participants believe their firm will change its WFH policy or allow WFH,” the survey notes.

A relief for New York City, 81% of survey participants, whether in NYC or not, said they believed their firms would not open offices in alternate locations away from the main office. However, 28% of NYC participants believed their firms will reduce the size of their offices compared to only 5% of participants located elsewhere.

The survey notes that a “key takeaway from the pandemic will be how we work,” with 72% of respondents foreseeing changes to WFH policies, 69% to office setups and layouts, 37% to technology infrastructure, and 33% to business continuity plans.

A healthy chunk of participants, 40%, say their firms are likely to consider hiring remote operations, accounting and IT personnel, while 34% believe that to be true for investment professionals.

“Less than 10% of survey participants reported granting investor-friendly concessions on fee, liquidity or reporting terms during the pandemic,” the survey report says.

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