By Dan Weiskopf
My colleagues and I have been mostly working from home (WFH) for about ten years. We find it more productive than an office or a collaborative space such as a WeWork environment. As a Portfolio Manager I have established a circle of specialists who I rely on, and don’t desire the random distractions present in an office environment. The financial service industry is naturally geared towards remote working, but individuals drawn to the industry have a certain level of emotional intelligence that allows WFH to become a permanent option for many firms. Much of the talk today paints WFH as a management nightmare that has grown out of necessity due to COVID-19. Many believe that WFH requires inspiration, trust, coordination and commitment between colleagues and of course a proper home set up.
Emotional Intelligence a Factor
More people are feeling entitled to work from home, and firms are envisioning the benefits of offering the WFH option. All this brings up a different question – who are the right people to embrace this new work culture? After all, there is a big difference between offering employees the option to work from home due to COVID-19, and implementing WFH as a long-term solution for efficiency. Such a strategy requires new technological integration and some training, but most importantly, the people on the team must be pushed to succeed through empowerment that harnesses the strength of their individual DNA. Daniel Goleman’s article, “Harvard researcher says the most emotionally intelligent people have these 12 traits. Which do you have?” is a helpful and timely guide.
Tools and Transparency
When colleagues share office space, empathy and organizational awareness are easier to manage. The WFH environment can require more transparency, so frequent progress reporting in project management may be important when working from home. Otherwise, it can be problematic for coworkers to know how projects are coming along and be accountable to deliver the expected Team outcome. Tools like SLACK Technologies (WORK) can be part of that solution. In a WFH environment, the constant sharing of data usually becomes a focus of time and strategic effort. Some firms may use Salesforce (CRM), while others prefer Hubspot (HUBS). Either way, it is all about learning to work smart, not just hard so more and more firms are using tools like Zoom or GoTo Meeting to offset the lack of in person interaction.
WFH Exposure in ETFs
Those looking to capitalize on the WFH trend can look to ETFs focused on Cloud Computing such as: First Trust Cloud Computing ETF (SKYY), Global X Cloud Computing ETF (CLOU) and WisomTree Cloud Computing Fund (WCLD). Additionally, the WFH theme can be found in O’Shares Global Internet Giants ETF (OGIG) and the Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO). Assuming markets remain friendly, there could be more WFH companies coming public.
Dan Weiskopf is a member of the Investment Committee at Toroso Asset Management and the ETF Strategist for the ETF Think Tank. Dan has over 30 years of buyside experience including 20 years of focus on ETFs.