Client service and outcomes should be the driving force when it comes to a mortgage brokerage setting its work from home policy, according to leading mid-size brokerages Insight Property Finance and Atelier Wealth.
Major banks CBA and NAB have recently begun a push for their staff to return to the office, following bank staff going fully remote due to the onset and ongoing fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBA has told its 49,000 staff they need to spend at least 50% of their time in the office from mid-July, while NAB has ordered senior staff back full-time and other staff back for two or three days.
Insight Property Finance partner Jason Lin (pictured above left) said his brokerage would continue to offer working from home on an ongoing basis for all staff so that they could make the most of their flexibility at home.
“Most of our staff work full time at home,” Lin said. “Some choose to come in between one and three days a week, but it is more or less on an optional basis.”
He said the stance was driven by the efficiency the brokerage had been achieving through remote working.
“Since the pandemic, brokers have been able to fully embrace the ability to do our work remotely,” said Lin.
“We are able to meet all our clients via video calls and complete the full process from beginning to end for each client. We have found this to be the most efficient way to work and we have since applied this to all our staff as well.”
Lin said this improved the end client experience and outcomes Insight could achieve, “as we collectively are able to spend less time on travelling and more focus and attention on the actual client”.
“Also being able to work consistently in a comfortable environment boosts productivity for all our staff,” he said. “Ever since working remotely, we have been able to provide more flexible meetings and calls for our clients as we are not taken out of action for hours at a time due to travel.”
Lin said Insight Property Finance placed full trust in its staff’s ability to work without supervision, and he said the business took pride in promoting the right type of culture for the arrangement.
Aaron Christie-David (pictured above right), Atelier Wealth managing director, said his business operated a hybrid model where work from home was available based on performance and was seen as “a privilege not a right”.
The hybrid model is anchored by operational measures such as a daily business WIP (Work In Progress) call at 9.15am, as well as transparency through shared access to other team members’ calendars.
While he said the business understood flexibility, having staff in multiple locations (including in the Philippines) it needed to be done in the shared spirit of performance for the team and for clients.
“We do not have an issue with our team working from home, we get it, but the way I usually like to frame it is that I am accountable to my team as much as they are accountable to me,” Christie-David said.
“I think the ultimate litmus test is, if we have team members working from home and we have clients that are chasing us up, it could be an indication that things are not working.”
Some Atelier team members have children or elderly parents and have the flexibility to work from home, and have proven themselves great team members because they are able to get stuff done, said Christie.
At other times, Christie-David said he had held conversations with staff to tell them that they may benefit from being in an office with the leadership and other team members around.
He added that what was also being missed in coverage of the banks bringing staff back to the office was the role the office plays in collaboration, culture and on-the-job staff learning.
“When team members come in and hear each other on the phone, for example, they can hear the way someone spoke to a client and solved their problem,” Christie-David said. “You don’t get that working from home.”
“There’s a magic that happens when we’re together and results show that. There’s phone calls being made, tasks being actioned, a buzz of activity when we’re in the office, you can see it and feel it.”
From a business perspective, Christie-David said staff were not being paid to “put out laundry” or “watch Netflix”, and it was important staff were accountable to the business and to the team.