Now That Some Workers Are Back in Their Offices, What's Next?
By Rusty Wiley, CEO of Datasite
Many professionals are preparing to return, or have already returned, to their offices, especially in U.S. states with high vaccination rates. Whether people are returning to work on a hybrid model, or a full time return to the office, the overall workplace experience will never be the same.
For starters, business leaders need to consider in many instances when, how and where employees meet in-person with clients, how to best attract and retain talent when one in four are planning to change jobs this year, and which work processes adopted during the pandemic will remain in place.
To help prepare our own plans, we wanted to understand how dealmakers were handling plans to return to their own offices. Through a survey of more than 240 U.S. dealmakers, we discovered the top issues on the their minds. Though they reflect concerns from M&A professionals, the results also illuminate some of the challenges and opportunities all business leaders will face in the next six to 12 months.
More use of technology + more support
The pandemic led people to find new ways of working, including adopting new technologies. Dealmakers were no exception to this, and quickly adapted to the world of virtual deal marketing, due diligence, deal closing and integration. In fact, some found that remote dealmaking actually offered some advantages over in-person dealmaking.
With M&A activity expected to keep rising, dealmakers will continue to need all the help they can get. They will still need clear strategies and strong relationships to get deals done, but the survey results show they will be using more technology – especially tools, powered by AI and machine learning – to streamline the management of the M&A process. For business leaders, particularly those leading software and technology companies, this means providing potentially even better support in a variety of ways that meet customers where they are. For example, Datasite handled more than 300,000 customer interactions and spent close to 150,000 hours supporting customers, last year. This year, with most of our customers starting their support journey online, we’re expanding self-service options, as well as enhancing specialized support.
Supporting a greater work/life balance + employee mental wellness
Though pandemic restrictions disrupted every facet of daily life, dealmakers picked up several new hobbies over the past year, the most popular of which were cooking or baking, home improvement, and fitness to pass the time and to aid in self-care.
This is an important gain for individuals in an industry that demands a lot from its workers. Additionally, these types of activities not only help to cure boredom, but also boost moods. This is especially important as burnout rates, particularly among women dealmakers versus their male counterparts, were higher during the pandemic.
Going forward, the topics of wellness and gender parity will need more attention from business leaders, not just in the M&A sector, but in finance and other sectors, too. One approach industry leaders can take is to support a flexible culture, and making all employees feel connected and seen. For financial leaders, there are clear rewards: research shows that deal teams that included women produced, on average, internal rates of return 12% higher than deals led by all-male teams.
Hybrid work is here to stay
Many workers, including dealmakers, want to participate in hybrid working arrangements, as they can provide greater flexibility and autonomy. Given this, it’s crucial for business leaders to understand that a one-size-fits-all model will likely need to be discarded and replaced with enhanced opportunities for balance and optionality.
Talent war heats up
The consequences for employers who don’t get on board with more agile working practices may result in challenges in attracting and retaining talent. As one in four dealmakers plans to change jobs this year, this may be especially challenging.
To ensure organizations remain attractive employer brands, benefits, compensation and flexibility must be top of mind. Additionally, organizations should consider prioritizing key social topics which continue to be top of mind, such as gender equity, and diversity and inclusion.
As M&A has continued to evolve, dealmakers have shown themselves to be especially resilient and effective in the face of change. Organizations that employ dealmakers, and businesses at large, have a big opportunity to embrace new work practices as they invite their employees back to the office. Those that don’t, risk being outpaced by their competitors.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.