Talent retention: embracing the four hybrid work types

In light of certain banks' new forced return policies, a new study reveals four ways the finance industry can retain top talent in an increasingly hybrid world.

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A reversal of remote work policies is underway at several prominent UK corporates, as they introduce mandatory in-office attendance to enhance productivity. Lloyds, for instance, has called upon its employees to return to the office twice a week, while multinational accounting firm Ernst & Young  has resorted to UK office attendance monitoring through turnstile data, and Deutsche Bank most recently joining the banks adamant about employees returning to their offices.

Nevertheless, these directives have encountered resistance. Employees have aired complaints loudly on TikTok, while a Lloyds Bank protest against such policies garnered nearly 4,000 signatures. 

In a recent survey, almost half of finance employees worldwide expressed their willingness to explore job opportunities elsewhere if compelled to increase their in-office presence.

The findings by Bright Network confirm that young and talented professionals highly value hybrid working arrangements. They seek flexibility in how, where, and when they perform their tasks for their employers.

In response to this desire, there’s a unique opportunity to make hybrid working a win-win situation for all parties involved, without compromising on productivity and performance objectives. A potential solution? 

Introducing the concept of categorising work tasks, based on their nature and requirements.

The dawning of four new work categories

According to a study conducted by Oxford professors Jonathan Trevor and Matthias Holweg, classifying work tasks into four distinct types can help clarify the amount of face-to-face interaction necessary to achieve goals and meet targets. 

This approach can establish a clear connection between the organisation’s objectives, team dynamics, and individual performance outcomes. It can also be tailored to accommodate the needs of both the organisation and its employees in a hybrid working environment.

The four identified ‘work task types’ are as follows:

  1. Individual procedural tasks: In the financial sector, the work of more independent financial advisors could involve tasks like data entry for transactions, reconciling with accounting software, or conducting business valuations. These activities typically require a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail but can be done independently with minimal interpersonal interactions.
  2. Focused creative tasks: Financial analysts and quantitative researchers often engage in focused creative tasks. For instance, they might develop complex financial models, write algorithms or conduct in-depth data analysis to identify investment opportunities. These tasks demand intense concentration and problem-solving skills.
  3. Coordinated group tasks: In the financial industry, coordinated group tasks could encompass activities such as project reviews for portfolio management. Team collaboration is crucial here as professionals need to discuss investment strategies, Fintech reports and market trends to make informed decisions. Effective teamwork ensures that the investment portfolio aligns with the company’s goals.
  4. Collaborative creative tasks: Financial firms often hold brainstorming sessions for strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, or risk management. These sessions bring together experts from various departments to innovate, devise new financial products, and solve complex financial challenges. In the financial industry, the effectiveness of these sessions is maximised when conducted in person to encourage real-time idea exchange and consensus building.

The research suggests that, with effective technology usage, it’s feasible for task types a), b), and c) to be executed remotely.

When it comes to ‘collaborative creative tasks’ (d), the study suggests that conducting these in person may still be slightly more conducive to maximum results as it stands right now.

Harnessing the power of task types: the benefits

Understanding the distinct nature of these four work task types holds the key to defining the future of work. 

By recognising the varying demands of these tasks, organisations can design more tailored work arrangements. This empowers employees to excel in tasks that align with their strengths and preferences, fostering a sense of purpose and job satisfaction. It not only aids in retaining employees, but also in managing expectations regarding job roles and responsibilities. 

Furthermore, the types provide employers the ability to evaluate the actual necessity of in-person collaboration for tasks in category four allowing businesses to streamline operations and allocate resources more efficiently. 

In doing so, they can strike a balance between remote and in-person work, ensuring both productivity and employee well-being. Ultimately, understanding and adapting to these work types are integral to shaping a successful and sustainable working life.

Other benefits include:

  • Personalised work arrangements: recognising the nature of tasks allows employees to tailor work arrangements to their individual and team needs. Offering a mix of remote and in-person work options ensures that employees can perform their tasks optimally while enjoying a work-life balance that suits them.
  • Improved productivity: by aligning task types with the most suitable work settings, employees can boost their productivity. This optimisation ensures that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively, contributing to the organisation’s overall success.
  • Enhanced well-being: acknowledging the diversity of task types and providing flexibility in work arrangements can contribute to improved well-being among employees. Reduced commuting times, the option to work in comfortable environments for focused tasks, and meaningful in-person interactions can lead to a healthier work-life balance.
  • Increased loyalty and talent retention: when organisations demonstrate an understanding of the nuanced needs of their teams and offer tailored work solutions, it fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment among employees. They are more likely to stay with an organisation that values their preferences and supports their professional growth. And with better employee retention, there should naturally be better customer retention as well.


For leaders in the finance industry, there’s an exciting opportunity to redefine the approach to work by focusing on these ‘task types.’ Doing so can significantly enhance productivity, effectiveness, well-being, and loyalty among the talented individuals in our organisations.

So, the question arises: how far are we willing to go in leveraging this opportunity? 

Not just in the financial sector, but in all areas of business and the workplace.

Embracing the hybrid work model and adapting our strategies accordingly may be the key to attracting and retaining top talent in the finance sector.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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