Enabling your financial services employees to work from anywhere and from any device isn’t just a game of chance or a challenge to relegate to the IT department. It is a collaborative effort between different groups that span the entire business: executives, facilities, employees, IT, and human resources (HR). HR in particular has a crucial leadership role to play in ensuring the success of a workforce mobility plan.
Emphasizing specific HR actions and initiatives can make the difference between a winning workforce mobility strategy that yields real results and a haphazard remote work policy where no one is satisfied.
Financial services professionals, such as loan officers, wealth planners and managers, and insurance agents are facing a changing demographic in an increasingly competitive industry. They strive for faster, better ways to interact with prospects and clients that will shorten business cycles and create a more satisfying customer experience. Additionally, they themselves want a lifestyle that balances work, family and personal needs. Mobility is the key for them to have it all. Work schedule flexibility and 24/7 access to necessary apps and data can allow professionals to fast-track workflow and be more responsive to customers, regardless of time or place.
HR’s role is to drive the following four aspects of workforce mobility, so that both the business and the customers come out as winners:
- Help managers identify opportunities for mobile working based on roles and people. Look for the following characteristics.
- Roles: Onsite equipment or technology is not required for these workers to do their jobs properly. Output and performance can be measured regardless of whether these employees work in the office or remotely.
- People: They should be tech-savvy enough to work with video conferencing, online file sharing tools and virtual desktops and apps. They should be motivated self-starters, with good time management skills.
- To encourage productivity, help facilities planners and individual workers design office spaces – whether in the office or at home. Provide material support and promote best practices by:
- Creating an ergonomic workstation by choosing the right chair to avoid back strain and tiredness; adjusting a screen to prevent eye strain and neck pain; and using footrests, wrist rests and laptop stands to stay comfortable and healthy.
- Taking regular breaks to stretch and change position. In an office, a special area designed for socialization and relaxation can help build teams, strengthen the company culture and relieve stress. The common play area also can offer food and drink.
- Using a headset when phone calls are frequent to relieve strain on the hands and neck. At the office, there should be private, quiet rooms that are fully furnished to accommodate sensitive phone calls or meetings.
- If in an office, 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.
- Find innovative ways to keep mobile workers engaged. While mobile workers may appreciate the flexibility in their workstyle, they also want to be part of the company or team culture. Here are some ideas to develop a sense of inclusion:
- Invite mobile workers to all-hands team meetings on site
- Hold team get-togethers, whether in the office or at an offsite location
- Encourage regular visits to the office, whether they’re weekly, monthly or quarterly
- Hold focus groups with mobile workers to make sure they have everything they need to do their best
- Introduce a mentoring or buddy system where mobile workers are paired with non-mobile colleagues to keep them looped into everything going on in the office
- Arrange in-person team building activities like volunteering or club sports
- Develop a mobile app for your company that feeds employees useful information as it comes up
- Profile mobile workers on your intranet, with an accompanying video, to help people learn more about their colleagues and what they’re working on
- Encourage feedback about mobile working through surveys, or as part of your evaluation process
- Create a collaboration site where team members can share work, documents and ideas
- Collaborate with IT to make sure mobile workers have the technology and tools they need to be productive, without sacrificing user experience, security and compliance. Critical enablers include:
- Wireless and remote access infrastructure to enable people work from anywhere in the office or any branch office
- Secure access to business and productivity apps from any device—employee or company-owned—with high performance and exceptional user experience
- Secure document access, sharing, syncing and storage
- 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
As banks, brokerages, insurance companies and others adopt mobility in the workplace, HR can play a vital part in its success, from designing the right policies and programs, to advising on office, home and mobile work environments. Most importantly, HR can guide employees and their managers along the path to effective, satisfying and productive mobile workstyles.
In the end, this kind of HR leadership nets three positive results. Employees will be happier and more engaged. Customers will have better, more engaging experiences. Your institution will build competitive advantage. This changes the game of workforce mobility for sure!