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Four steps to the digital office for financial services firms

In my last piece, I argued that there were three major factors driving a transformation to a digital office in financial services; the physical rearchitecture of the workspace to accommodate more collaborative working practices, the rise of younger generations in the workplace, and the advent of adaptive technologies.

To deliver the facilities and technologies needed to meet the new needs of the new office worker, financial services firms need to consider four key steps.

Get employee buy-in 

The financial services industry is disciplined and regimented due to the very nature of the work. This means one barrier to change will be a shift in culture, as people get used to the fact that working from an office isn’t always necessary. Ask employees how they want to communicate, what technology makes them more productive, and what will make life easier while at work. These are important questions to ask if you’re thinking about ways of digitally enabling your workforce. While there may be many pushing for new ways of working and new technologies, there will be many who resist, and you need to bring all of them with you when making a change.

Other industries have shown some good initiatives here. For example, Skanska, a construction company, turned to its employees to find out what their needs and expectations were for collaboration before upgrading their internal communications hub and deploying new technology. The company surveyed 2,200 employees and conducted 100 personal interviews – using the information to create a video platform that could connect teams, share global knowledge and build company culture.[1]

Browse available technologies 

People need technology that works – and will be after equivalents of the apps they use to talk to their far-flung relatives at the weekend, readily available on smartphones. Equally, technology needs to deliver a high-fidelity experience to be useful for the office. Look at technologies that can integrate with collaboration platforms like Skype for Business (like our own ConferenceCam range), which deliver an enterprise-grade experience and a familiar user interface.

Technology should serve people, and it can only do so if it is working with other elements in a space to support their goals. New technology deployed should be intuitive and work seamlessly with the employee experience – allowing people to have meaningful interactions, whether they are sat next to each other or half the world away. There have been too many cases of phenomenally expensive and technically wonderful systems installed the world over… only to never be used due to being slightly too complex to use.

Consider how processes will work  

Gartner predicts that by 2020, organisations that choose to implement flexible working policies, or a ‘choose your own workstyle’ culture, will boost employee retention rates by more than 10 percent. Companies realise the advantages of flexible working, and are implementing different perks. When doing this, it’s important to make sure processes are in place where people can easily connect to colleagues working remotely, and know where they are.

It has to be easy for people to interact so that they can come up with better ideas, especially in the high-pressure situations that arise within financial services. They will need to make decisions fast and solve problems quickly, regardless of where and how they’re working. You need to think about how you map ALL your business systems and processes to a more flexible working environment.


When redesigning the financial office, think about the different zones that employees need in order to be productive. For example, there should be zones for concentrated solo work, collaboration spaces where employees can connect on-the-fly, as well as more formal meeting spaces.

An accelerating transformation in financial services

Today’s financial services businesses can be run from anywhere, and many won’t need to be sat at an office desk to be productive. The digital office will encompass a more flexible working environment, including the remote working practices that can be so beneficial to employee wellbeing.

Over the next ten years we will continue to see a move to different types of communication spaces such as small ‘huddle’ rooms, or break out spaces, where employees can host meetings on-the-fly. In the context of this, it’s important financial services sector businesses pause to reflect on where they are as a business on this journey, and figure out their path to the digital workspace of the future.


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