man at desk with multiple monitors alone in an office (Photo: Bloomberg)

The ongoing pandemic has forced investment managers to make significant changes to the way they operate their businesses, from work-at-home arrangements to online business meetings and restricted travel.

Earlier this year, Callan surveyed managers about how COVID-19 was affecting their business protocols. It recently followed up by asking nearly 100 managers how they currently are navigating the pandemic. The key findings include the following:

1. More than four in five offices (81 percent) remained closed. Managers whose primary offices are in the Southeast had the highest percentage of open offices (38 percent), while the fewest are in the Central states (9 percent.) Mid-sized firms were more likely than larger ones to be open.

2. Most employees are working remotely. Because of these closures, three-fourths of managers said that at least nine in 10 employees were working from home. This trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic ends. Seventy-eight percent of managers expected up to a quarter of their workforce to permanently work from home.

3. More than one-third of respondents expected offices not to reopen until 2021. Forty-four percent were uncertain about the timing of their office reopening. Fifty-six percent had a specified reopening target, with more than half of those expecting to reopen in 2021.

4. Nearly half conducted all meetings by video conference call. Zoom was the most popular platform. Twenty-one percent of those who chose a primary platform used a secondary and/or tertiary platform as well.

Almost 80 percent said the number of August meetings stayed the same or increased over the previous year. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents conducted all of their interaction with clients and consultants by video conference call in August. Larger firms (64 percent) were more likely to do so than smaller firms (42 percent).

5. Employers tried to boost engagement. Seventy-two percent of respondents increased the amount of communication from senior management compared to before the pandemic. The majority of firms increased senior management communications and town hall events to enhance employee engagement.

6. Most will implement new office protocols after reopening. Half of respondents said they planned a phased return to offices currently open or when reopening their offices in the future.

Sixty-eight percent of large firms planned for a phased return in addition to implementing a health-screening policy. Other policies implemented included contact tracing of employees, providing personal protective equipment and limiting office capacity to 20 percent of employees at any given time.

7. Business travel is unlikely to resume this year. More than nine in 10 of respondents who provided an anticipated date for resumption of travel stated that this wouldn’t take place until 2021.

8. Nearly all outside visitors are banned. Ninety-three percent of respondents continued to ban outside visitors, down slightly from 97 percent in the June survey.

The Callan website has the complete report, “Coping With COVID 19: How Work Is Evolving for Investment Managers.”