Romi Savova (left)/PensionBee
COVID-19: When, if ever, will fintech companies head to the office?
Being in a busy office seems like a thing of the past after five months of lockdown, but some fintechs have already begun to slowly return to normality.
The question on many people’s lips for weeks has been: when will we return to the office?
Fortunately for fintechs, the transition to working from home wasn’t quite as drastic as many larger corporations because a lot of them are cloud-based and much more agile when it comes to working.
One key point that many fintechs raised early on in the pandemic was that they provide their staff with laptops when they join, which are much easier to transport than big old-fashioned desktops.
Well, in order to get to the bottom of when, and how, fintechs might return to the offices AltFi spoke to several to get their opinions.
Alternative pension provider PensionBee has already allowed some staff back into the office as part of a “staged return”—welcome news for the AltFi team as we’re based in the same building.
Throughout the crisis the fintech “maintained a critical team in the office” to ensure operations continued to run smoothly and take care of tasks that can’t be done remotely, like checking post and scanning policy documents as many pension providers still rely on paper.
At the end of May, PensionBee introduced ‘office days’ for anyone who wanted to go into the office they could book a desk on Mondays and Thursdays, to ensure social distancing requirements were met.
Romi Savova, CEO and co-founder of PensionBee, told AltFi: “Our office days have been a big success with members of the team who cannot work from home due to productivity, welfare or other personal reasons no longer having to work remotely full-time.”
PensionBee plans to expand office days next month and has given all staff the option of continuing to work from home or head back to the office.
Savova added that while there has been physical distance her team has still continued to cooperate well throughout the pandemic.
“While we miss being together as a team in the same ways we were before the crisis we’re just as connected as ever,” she told AltFi.
A spokesperson for Monzo told AltFi that the digital bank is undertaking a staged return in its Cardiff office, but staff are yet to return to its London base.
The digital bank actually moved offices while under lockdown, moving away from fellow digital bank and rival Starling, where the two banks used to be based opposite one another.
Currently, Monzo has around 30 staff back working in its Cardiff office but says it's too early to tell when its full workforce will return and there is no pressure for anyone to head back just yet either.
Swedish fintech Klarna’s UK operations are set to head back to the office in the near future too.
“There’s a real appetite in some of the teams because it’s ingrained in our DNA and our way of working. We’re a really social company and remote working has meant that we haven’t had that really close collaboration that we’re used to,” he added.
Interestingly, Klarna’s Swedish offices also closed throughout the pandemic despite Sweden not having any form of lockdown.
Marsh told AltFi: “Our CEO Sebastian was running fantastic daily calls where all of Klarna’s employees could join and he would update everyone about what was going on at a corporate level. It really helped keep up the sense of community.”
Digital bank Starling is also yet to fully return to the office.
A spokesperson for the bank told AltFi: “A small number of employees have gone back to the office, but the majority of employees are still working remotely.”
In Starling’s offices social distancing measures are in place to ensure the safety of its staff and future working arrangements are still under consideration.
The employees that returned to its offices in London, Southampton and Cardiff all chose to do so.
Revolut is another fintech that is ready to head back into its offices but hasn’t done so just yet.
A spokesperson for the digital banking service told AltFi that it will only go back into its offices “when they are fully equipped to adhere to social distancing guidelines.”
The fintech plans to open its London office next month after a successful re-opening of its Vilnius office earlier on this month.
Under its post-lockdown system, employees of the e-money institution can book desks in order to control the number of staff in the offices at any one time.
Know of any other fintechs returning to the office? Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org