Remote Work and Retirement Education

Joe Fleischmann, Partner, Plan Consultant

I read a recent survey (2022 survey conducted by Advanced Workplace Associates) of nearly 10,000 office workers, of which only 3% say they want to return to the office five days a week.  86% of them want to work from home at least two days a week.  We are seeing this desire for office flexibility make waves in today’s workforce and job market.  I’ve personally valued working from home, something I started doing five years before the pandemic.  My productivity increased and my overall happiness did as well.  Work-from-home has provided many simple joys for me such as spending lunch with my 4-year-old.  What a treat to share a PB&J with my daughter on a regular basis.  I’m a lucky fella.

We will continue to debate this topic as a society, but for me and my business, how does remote work apply to delivering retirement education and advice?  How will this impact the employees who are used to getting onsite 401k education at their place of employment?  A strength of our service model at Pacific Retirement Partners is to provide onsite education, often in a one-on-one setting with employees.  Although the most time consuming of our services, it is often the most fulfilling to have a direct positive impact on those you meet with.

As we come through the other side of the pandemic many people will still mostly work from home with limited time in the physical corporate office.  So, what now?  How do we educate with a personal touch?

Technology is the obvious answer

But is it personal?  Can it be as impactful?  I believe over the next decade that algorithms and artificial intelligence will lead the way.  401k vendors are already embracing this and will continue to apply technology advances.  Communication and education will become more personal through our mobile devices.  One-on-one meetings with employees will likely continue, but mostly in virtual settings.

The question I have is will it be as impactful as a face-to-face in a conference room?  The place where I’ve impacted thousands of people over my twenty plus years in this business?  I don’t know if there will ever be a technology to fully replace that live and in-person experience in my lifetime.  But I hope it gets close.  If the 401k vendors with leading technology can continue to evolve, then my personal thousands of impacts will easily be replaced by the millions of people they can impact through technology.  Hopefully there will still be a place for the likes of me to deliver an in-person experience for those that need it and want it.  So those that need and want a real person has access to one while others can rely on the technology to get what they need.