​Is the office dead for power traders?

power trader working from home remote set up multiple screens stock market

Eleven News, gas-power-and-lng

Is the office dead for power traders?

When you picture traders, do you picture the bustling offices, phones ringing off the hook, analysts running between desks sharing timely data which could massively impact an impending trade? The Wolf of Wall Street image is hard to shake, but the reality of 2020 is that many traders were forced to work from home this year.

Home comforts, extra family time due to no commute and hopefully increased productivity with less distractions meant that many took to remote working like a duck to water, but will this situation work in the long run? Is the office officially dead for power traders?

70% have everything they need

Eleven Recruitment recently conducted a poll on LinkedIn, asking power traders if they could work effectively from home and whether they did, in fact, have all the required equipment that they need. An overwhelming 70% of respondents answered ‘Yes, I have everything I need’, whilst 28% answered ‘No, I need to be in the office’ and just 2% responded with ‘Other’.

Some of the traders that we have spoken with explain that their companies quickly set them up with all of the equipment that they needed, from multiple screens to communication software. Having the correct equipment, such as Zoom, Teams or similar software meant that power traders could keep in regular contact with analysts, risk managers and their own trading managers to support smooth trade operations.

With the poll results suggesting that power traders may not need to be in the office to work effectively, we delved a little deeper to see if remote working could be viable in the longer terms for those in this role.

What about regulations and working hours?

With lockdown effectively forcing many to work from home overnight, it is no wonder that problems quickly arose and had to be dealt with. One of the biggest reasons why working from home may not be ideally suited to power trading sits around regulation.

With all trades being conducted from home, risk management teams may not have the full picture of the trade, and therefore the potential risk may be slightly out of their control. Along a similar vein, trading managers may feel as though they do not know the precise movements of their team, and whether they are working to their full potential, or their full contracted hours.

In a study, eFinancial careers found that whilst some employees during lockdown were working extra hours from home, through their lunchbreak or during the time they would normally be commuting, others were filling their days with work, the TV and early finishes.

Solutions

For many companies, it became clear early on that increased communication could be the answer to many of these problems and were quick to implement appropriate software.

A study conducted by Censuswide in August 2020 involving more than 1,019 UK respondents who have worked from home during lockdown and previously were in an office environment found that the majority of workers believe their company IT strategy was implemented quickly (58%), was adequate (53%) and has been effective (50%) throughout the pandemic. However, 39% of those say their company needs to update its IT strategy for the future.

If remote working continues, keeping in regular contact with employees throughout the week will help to keep your team on track. Monitoring log ins as well as having the correct software to continually monitor trades, as one would at the desk, means regulations as always can be met. Team calls on Friday afternoons to plan for the week ahead could help to keep work on track, whilst ensuring that no one has started their weekend early.

What about office culture?

From the power traders that we have spoken with, it appears to be younger traders who miss the buzz of the office. Older, more experienced traders are finding that working from home brings less distraction and are enjoying the ‘head space’ that it provides.

It cannot be underestimated too that the employee value proposition of the bricks and mortar or postcode of where an office is based can often be a draw to some new starters – this needs to be considered.

Solutions

Introducing an option for employees to work from home part time may be a solution as and when the working landscape returns to normal. This will help to provide a good mix of office culture with independent working hours, whilst also maintaining the control of having traders in the offices some days a week.

As with any line of work, building trust between employer and employee is key to a successful working relationship. This inherently takes time, but once it is established, it may be that more employees decide to work from home. Results of this could be smaller offices, shorter leases on office space or even shared office spaces that act more like meeting rooms than permanent desks.

What’s your views? Join the conversation here.

Would you feel comfortable with your team of traders working from home on a permanent basis? What measures have you/will you need to put in place if this becomes a reality?