Fintechs extol virtue of central hub as settle into hybrid working life

Fintechs are embracing hybrid working structures but stress the importance of maintaining an office hub.

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Flexible working appears to have become the norm for many fintechs post pandemic, with employers content for employees to split their week working from home and in the office.

With no sign of a drop off in productivity, some have questioned the need for a central office, or at least one the same size as pre-pandemic.

AltFi quizzed four fintechs, Moneybox,Chip,Iwoca and Zopa, on their new working models post-pandemic and asked what role, if any, the head office now held.

Shift to hybrid working model

All four fintechs have shifted to a hybrid-working model, with staff currently working from the office and home.

Iwoca, for instance, says it doesn’t have a “one-size-fits all policy”, with some staff working two to three days in the office while others just five days per quarter. It says it is up to employees how they split their time.

Chip, meanwhile, says some of its staff are working primarily remote while others work from the office more often.

For example, Chip’s marketing team needs more face-to-face contact and more in-person collaboration, so they all come to the office on select days, multiple times a week. 

On the other hand, its engineering team, which has the biggest proportion of overseas workers, works from home a lot more, which works well for its overseas workers, Chip said.

Zopa, meanwhile, says it’s in a “test and learn” phase, which it began in June, giving staff  “the flexibility to choose how and where they worked over a six-month period this year”.

It is garnering staff feedback- within one month of the test, 72 per cent of staff had made a visit to London office- and will soon decide on its working arrangements moving forwards.

Finally, Moneybox says that since August this year, staff have been allocated two days a week in its office, although some staff have more days in the office while others are fully remote.

These office days are currently optional and staff can book a desk and work from the office on days they have not been allocated, Moneybox said.

Next year, Moneybox hopes to ask everyone to work from the office on their allocated days.

The importance of a central office

Zopa says its has reduced its office footprint since the start of the pandemic, downsizing from three offices across London and Barcelona in early 2020, to one in 2021. 

Zopa is keeping its central London Bridge office and using co-working spaces in Barcelona and says, next year, plans to make investments in new office space.

Chip, meanwhile, still runs a head office in London, albeit it has moved its HQ from Chancery Lane back to Shoreditch.

“Having a hub where staff can work together, collaborate in person, have meetings, or just socialise is very important to us,” says founder Simon Rabin.

Moneybox says that it has expanded Its floor space in its head office, to support headcount more than doubling to more than 250 in the last 18 months.

Seema Desai, chief operations officer, Iwoca, said: “When I stopped by the office a couple of times last summer in between lockdowns – even with just a handful of people kicking about – it still felt like coming home. Whether there’s ten people in, or hundreds, our character still shines though. 

“I think that bodes well for the new world of hybrid working we’re entering."

Staff response to new working model

All four fintechs say staff have responded positively to their new working models.

Zopa says its staff have told them how the time saved on the commute has been used to invest in areas like their own wellbeing, as well as spending more times with loved ones.

It added that 85 per cent of staff said hybrid working had a positive impact on them, while 86 per cent believed it had positive impact on the business.

Rabin says staff response has been “overwhelmingly positive”.

“Speaking to our employees and taking each team's needs into account has been key to figuring the best way to tackle hybrid working,” he said.

For the time being, it seems staff have embraced hybrid working. Whether there will be furher changes to how fintechs work remains to be seen. 

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