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Anne Walsh, Guggenheim CIO Fixed Income: The pandemic has shown that people can be productive working from home.

Anne Walsh, Guggenheim CIO Fixed Income, and Rob Falzon, Prudential Vice Chairman discuss how the pandemic has accelerated certain trends in the workplace, including more people working from home.

Video Transcript

ANNE WALSH: I think before the mass amount of work from home, there was a great deal of skepticism as to whether working from home was even an option. Quite clearly, society has now learned that this is a demonstrable success. And this will give working people so much more flexibility going forward.

And I think it also gives employers confidence that the traditional-- and I'm going to put in air quotes-- industrial model of work that we have all been used to-- and there, I've been in it for decades-- you know, that it is ready to be adjusted. And that work from home is one aspect of that flexibility.

You know, industrial economists and scientists have been thinking about, for years, whether or not shorter work weeks worked. Obviously, work from home is now a whole new element. But other aspects of how work can actually change and be adaptive and for people to be much more productive.

Interestingly enough, and I'll actually turn to the survey that was done by Prudential, that in terms of autonomy, individuals have more autonomy, and when individuals have more control over facets of their environment, whether that's their family environment, their work environment, or so forth, they tend to get a lot more enjoyment out of work.

And I think that's been probably one of the reasons that individuals really have benefited from the work from home. Additionally, Dr. Danny Kahneman did a study some years ago about the least favorable aspect of your working person's life. And the number one item was commuting, and that, you know, the fact that people don't have to make long commutes.

Again, the survey that Prudential performed indicates that they're using that for work. But frankly, even if they're using that for some other purpose, spending time with their family, catching up a little bit extra rest or what have you, or enjoying health, for example, taking a walk or something of this nature to help with physical and/or mental health, is a better use of time than the painful commute that so many people had to go through.

So I think we've shown ourselves as a work society that work can be changed and the style of work can be changed in such a way that we can get a lot more productivity without that constant, what I call that industrial model of FaceTime and sitting next to your manager and so forth. So I think the work world is ready for a change, and again, harnessing the technology that's quite clearly been a huge benefit here in order to make work change as we've gone through this year.

KRISTIN MYERS: So then, Anne, how does retaining talent change going forward? Is it all about-- you know, you're talking about things like reducing commute time. Is it all about being remote? Is that what employees, what workers want? I mean, how exactly do companies going forward make sure they recruit and also retain that top talent?

ANNE WALSH: So, great question. You know, there's several aspects to retaining top talent and attracting top talent. One is corporate culture, the opportunity set. Again, I'll go back to an individual's ability to gain satisfaction and an enjoyment from work. And workplace flexibility, as we've just been discussing, is one element of that. And I think that would go a long way to retaining individuals.

You know, we haven't necessarily talked about gender. But certainly, women, for decades, have been seeking ways to balance the burdens of family, as well as work. And again, this is not just women, of course, but historically, that's been a very significant issue for women in the workplace.

You know, women have been maybe more disproportionately negatively impacted during the coronavirus because of some of these burdens, but my hope is that on the back side of coronavirus, that women will enjoy the benefits of this new flexibility in work.

And quite clearly, I come from the investment management industry. And we need to attract women to the industry and retain them. Only about 9% of all portfolio managers are women. And somewhere along the line, you know, some aspects, whether it's, again, providing more satisfaction at work or opportunity or flexibility, are going to be strong ways for companies to retain-- you know, attract and retain top talent.