While we often think about the mobile workforce working from a home office or sitting with their laptops in coffee houses, most of these workers still go into the office for various reasons, including meeting with colleagues or customers, and attending corporate training. For that reason, implementing technology like network connectivity and supporting a host of mobile devices is only the start of how to enable the mobile workforce.
This is something of which many in the world of finance have taken notice.
Finance industry leaders are realizing that when mobile workers are in the office building, offering them a physical workplace that supports mobility not only improves productivity and satisfaction, but also reduces real estate costs. This is crucial because many of the financial hubs around the world are located in high-rent districts. The double benefit of redesigning the workplace makes it an attractive investment. But how does a financial institution’s facilities team get started?
First, use a solution-based design methodology, such as Design Thinking or Agile Design in the initial phase. This way, the facilities team can uncover human needs and integrate them into design planning. For example, by interviewing workers about the habits, needs and desires that best drive productivity, the facilities team can unearth requirements such as:
- Temporary teams of people that rapidly meet and disband based on work on a project or in a particular department. This may involve people across different departments or locations. They will need anywhere access to their apps and data while in the office. In large conference rooms, digital technology such as video conferencing, phone, projector, etc. likely will be required.
- Individual work, sensitive phone calls or meetings will require private, quiet rooms that are fully furnished.
- Socialization and relaxation to build teams, strengthen the company culture, and relieve stress will require a common play area that also offers food and drink.
- Regulatory requirements that impact the design of the space must be taken into account – for example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates that sensitive financial information must be segregated from the general areas of the office. Security best practices also require sterile workstations dedicated to taking customer-sensitive information over the phone – that is, no drawers or shelves for pens, paper, and personal items. Lockers will need to be provided in a common area for personal use.
While drawing up a design, the facilities team should incorporate modular areas with movable walls, multi-functional rooms, and even furniture that can be reconfigured on-the-fly to ensure that designs are future-proofed and flexible enough to accommodate change.
Next, the facilities team will need to work with IT to provide mobility-enabling technology, including:
- Existing wireless and remote access infrastructure for people to work from anywhere in the office
- Secure delivery of business and productivity apps to any device—employee or company-owned—with high performance and an exceptional user experience
- Secure document access, sharing, syncing, and storage to meet regulatory requirements
- Web-based collaboration solutions that offer screen sharing, video conferencing, and the ability to host scheduled or impromptu virtual meetings
- Remote help-desk services to ensure uninterrupted, high-performance access and availability for mobile workers
Last, but most certainly not least, don’t forget to engage with the end users – in this case, the workers – to help them acclimate to the new workplace environment. Offer communication on the schedule of implementation, what’s changed, and information about whom to approach for questions and comments. Plan for trainings and tours to help the workers get accustomed to the new environment and technology. Administer pre- and post-move surveys to gauge interest, measure satisfaction, and ask for feedback. Using internal communication channels to share/promote the outcome is a good way to highlight success and let mobile workers know what to expect when they arrive at that office.
What benefits can financial services institutions enjoy from the workplace redesign investment? One welcome effect of redesigning facilities for mobile workers is a significant reduction in real estate overhead. On average, workforce mobility yields a 50 percent increase in utilization for a given location (one desk/seat for every 1.5 full-time equivalents, or FTEs), which reduces capital costs of leasing or building office space. A smaller physical footprint reduces environmental impact through lower energy consumption and emissions. Another outcome of a transformed workplace is to help attract and retain talent and build loyalty to the company and coworkers.
As for the workers themselves, they can enjoy a more dynamic environment that promotes active collaboration, creativity and productivity. Including a mix of different types of spaces within the building and offering all the mobile technology needed to promote employee and customer engagement ultimately yields a better customer experience.