'Technology is no longer a limiting factor' – PEWire Live's CFO/COO Summit Day 1

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PEWire Live kicked off its CFO/COO Summit on Wednesday, where a roster of industry experts spanning the private equity space looked at how the last twelve months have impacted GPs from an operational perspective. 

The first panel of the day focused on how businesses will deal with today’s hybrid home/office work environment, and how people are slowly starting to go back to the office again while navigating this ‘hybrid model’ of flexible working –  a practice that the panel agreed firms and their portfolio companies will experience more of from now on. 

Technology is no longer a limiting factor, it will be the culture of the company that dictates how and when people come back to the office, according to Jamie Smith, director of International Technology, Eze Castle Integration. 

“Most people that invested in the technologies that improve collaboration and communication before the pandemic are reaping the benefits now, because it wasn’t a new thing to them, it was just that a certain working-from-home culture continued," explained Smith. 

“Nearly every firm we speak to now has an aspiration to be a Cloud-first or a Cloud-agile company, and that’s really important because of the way technology affects the company. Technology doesn’t mimic the business now – it can pretty much work in any way the business needs it to, so the choice is now -in terms of operations and the culture of the organisation –  where and when people work, which is quite liberating and a good place to be,” he added. 
 
Jason Howard, CFO/COO at Headway Capital Partners, said: “There will be an element of a hybrid model which will be very good for people, very good for work life balance, whether that’s one or two days or more. So it will evolve, and it will be interesting to see where it ends up.” 

The hybrid model will become Headway Capital Partners’ new work model, commented Howard, whether that’s three days or four days a week in the office. “We also do need to be mindful that for those who do go back to four or five days a week in the office, that could be seen as a disadvantage and the next generation of talent may want that level of flexibility. If you go back to the old ways, that may not be particularly helpful to your strategy,” he said. 

Howard also pointed out that the necessity of some travelling will be reconsidered post-Covid and mentioned that the millennial mindset differs in terms of productivity/location. 

"The output is more important [rather than location]. As long as we're seeing the output we require, that will continue to be the case. Going back to Jason’s point, millennials definitely tend to focus more on output rather than how you get it done, it's less micromanagement and more output focused." 

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