How Banks can Deal to the Changing Nature of the Workforce

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on December 13, 2022

How To Cope With Change In The Workplace

After the U.K. government lifted its guidance on working from home, large banks and insurers announced plans to return to the office. HSBC and Standard Chartered both requested that staff come back to the office within a few days, with Citigroup following shortly afterward.

Some people debated whether returning to the office would increase staff absences, which were already high at the time, while others pointed out that city centers would benefit from increased foot traffic after years of low numbers of visitors.

Many people agreed that some level of flexible working arrangements would continue even after returning to the office. Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC, admitted that being in the office five days a week is “unnecessary” and said that hybrid working models are “the new reality of life.”

Even now, banks have different opinions and strategies about what the future of work and the office will look like in terms of meeting expectations.

Banks: Reimagining Existing Real Estate

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon referred to the return to the workplace as a “work in progress” and said he wants people to “generally come together,” while executives from financial services company Jefferies called on senior dealmakers to return to the office to “mentor abandoned juniors.”

Financial services firms are traditionally seen as inflexible and have invested in large headquarters and branches to host their staff. As a result, many were left with a large amount of unused real estate when the pandemic began.

Employees have become accustomed to the benefits of working from home, such as increased flexibility and reduced travel expenses, especially as the cost of living has risen and people have tried to cut back on spending.

To encourage employees to return to the office, banks must redesign their real estate to meet the needs of today’s workforce, and also recognize that their existing offices are unlikely to be able to accommodate the same number of people as they did before the pandemic.

To adapt to the long-term effects of COVID-19, some of the UK’s largest banks have started converting underused parts of their branches into office space, as an alternative to bringing staff back to larger buildings and headquarters. For example, HSBC has turned parts of its headquarters into collaborative workspaces and meeting rooms for clients.

Consistent Models for Consistent Experiences

Operating a hybrid model has many benefits for banks, such as allowing people to work in ways that better fit their personal lives, making the financial services industry more accessible to different talent pools, and potentially increasing productivity. These are just a few examples.

However, a key challenge is ensuring that employees have a consistent experience whether they are working in the office or remotely. Currently, the quality of the remote and in-office experience can be vastly different. This is particularly difficult when teams are dispersed. Although many banks have invested in upgrading their office spaces to promote collaboration, it is impossible to meet everyone’s needs, especially for large financial institutions.

How can banks create a consistent model that incorporates both in-office and remote work? Technology can play a role in achieving this. For example, desktops as a service (DaaS) technology can give banks the flexibility they need to allow employees to access their applications, remote desktops, and sensitive data securely from any location.

Using DaaS technology is valuable for employees because it allows them to access the information and platforms they need without encountering security challenges. It is also beneficial for business operations because it allows for scalability and can increase productivity.

Cost vs. Security vs. Experience

Security is a top priority for banks that are developing hybrid work models. The financial services industry has strict requirements and regulations, so there is no room for error. It is essential for banks to understand what employees are allowed to do remotely and ensure that security is never compromised.

To achieve the right balance between cost, security, and employee experience, banks need to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach and adopt a more contextualized strategy that does not grant access based on physical or network location alone. By implementing a zero-trust approach across the organization, security is applied to users, devices, applications, and how people work. Access is granted on a per-session basis and is continuously enforced, so excessive downloads, authentication failures, and geofence violations are all considered.

Adopting a zero-trust mindset ensures the highest levels of security while also allowing employees to access the data and applications they need without compromising security or user experience.

It is clear from the changes you have already seen that banks are committed to adapting to meet the expectations of today’s hybrid workforce and their customers. While the traditional culture of bankers working in offices may still exist to some extent, the competition for talent, staff retention, and updated policies are creating a new culture of banking that emphasizes hybrid work.

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