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Treasury work balance has changed forever. Hybrid mode is the new norm

Last week Alan Jope, the boss of Unilever, announced that their workers will never return to their desks full-time. The multinational firm is planning to look at different working patterns after their pandemic experiences. He hopes everyone will return to work later this year, but whenever they do, Unilever will use a “hybrid mode” of working between homes and offices.

It has also become clear that these changes in the basic business model are also being reflected in the corporate treasury.

Treasury systems development

Treasury systems development have moved to the cloud so now the programmers can be located anywhere as long as they can connect to the Internet and the cloud. The current pandemic has taught system developers that they can continue their development from home, it does not need to be in a central office.

Daniel Richter, Head of Application Development at TIPCO, said, “Our software development workflows have been designed from the start with the aim of facilitating effortless and frictionless collaboration between remote-working teams. The highly available and secure, cloud-based platforms we use in our development processes are securely accessible from home via VPN and have ensured that the development of our Treasury Information Platform (TIP) remains entirely unaffected by the COVID-pandemic.”

In terms of recruiting, TIPCO has noticed an increase in applications resulting from the fact that apparently even developers – who are normally in very high demand - have been laid off in considerable numbers in the last couple of months.

Where to recruit from

Other developers are telling of similar experiences in their development programmes. However, differences are emerging as to where to recruit from. Some developers are still just recruiting from their local country because of language and national habits/attitudes differences.

While other developers are recruiting from wider areas. Within their time zone or the next time zone is becoming popular. However, developers are finding that there is a limit. One or two time zones is acceptable operationally, but any more is not effective and leads to all sorts of problems not just operationally but also in terms of habits and attitudes.

Brexit has brought another problem: UK citizens now need a visa to work in the EU. Setting up a visa takes, employers are finding, some 6 weeks or more. In urgent projects that require employees on the ground ASAP, some employers are now not attempting to recruit UK workers at all. (Boris: is this another Brexit bonus?)

Corporate treasury departments

Corporate treasury recruiters are finding that in the “post-lockdown” world remote working/WFH practices have changed, but not dramatically. For example, at The Treasury Recruitment Company have found that the remote working is useful for some:

  • interim roles i.e., where there has either been sickness, and there is an immediate need or cover required whilst permanent staff have been working their notice periods
  • specific projects i.e., TMS implementations / upgrade.

However, Mike Richards, TRC’s CEO, says, “Do I believe this is a 100% move to a new home-based / virtual way of working for Treasury teams? No, I do not.”

He explains:

“I have recently recruited a Group Treasurer position for one of our clients where they as a client has considered candidates from wider geography than they might usually i.e., over 100 miles from London.

However, the agreement is that the Treasurer will spend 40-60% of the week in London - one to two nights per week in temporary accommodation as they will need to provide physical coaching to what is an evolved treasury team, who range in experience from Treasury Intern up to Head of Treasury Operations.

All of whom have a range of coaching and personal development needs that the Treasurer will take an active role in coaching them and helping them develop and there’s only so much that can be done virtually.”

The reasons why he thinks that corporate treasury departments will not go to fully Working From Home is that:

  • Treasury is a finance discipline and is, by its very nature, collaborative.
  • Treasury teams thrive through physical meetings. Getting together is critical.
  • Meetings of treasury teams often lead to ideas generated through the communication of a range of differing views and the exchange of opinions.

Also, many corporate treasurers passionately believe that they can only train and mentor junior members face-to-face.

CTMfile take:  From our discussions with corporate treasury departments worldwide, it is clear that: 1) a new balance of WFH and office working is now in place, 2) corporate treasury will NEVER return to 100% office working, 3) multi-location, multi-country teams could become the norm, and 4) the particular blend of office v. WFH work depends on the company and the individuals concerned.

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