Trading floor at a Financial Services
Everything keep changing in the wake of the pandemic. Workplaces too need to reflect this deeply. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Being in the financial services industry for seven years provided a lot of memories. More so as COVID-19 changed the face of the once luxurious, corner office with a mahogany desk that dominated top floor offices. These C-suites were far removed from the bustle of the city, and yet came with a view of what was happening outside.

It provided an oversight into what was happening and catch up on rumours and whispers behind those locked doors. With industries grappling with the future of the office, the stakes are uniquely high for financial service firms. The largest banks and insurers have invested hundred of millions into flagship offices, along with branches, satellite offices, and other real estate.

During the pandemic, financial-services employees spent three-quarters of their time on remote working practices, which called into question the need for so many offices and cubicles. At the same time, the industry is changing in ways that are radically reshaping financial services’ workforces and their daily working patterns.

Make those offices future ready - now

The result is that yesterday’s financial services headquarters are no longer fit for tomorrow. To future-proof flagship offices, banks and insurers are considering the larger forces reshaping the industry, redefine the purpose of their workplaces, and tailor real-estate approaches that will best help them compete.

First, digital transformation that will change its workforce composition and skillsets. Employees have had to reinvent the wheel, including electronic signatures, mobile scanning, and high-volume call systems known as digital/virtual trading turrets. Digital demands will only continue to increase.

In response to a greater need for digital dexterity, the financial services workforce must be reconfigured for effective talent acquisition, onboarding, and reskilling to attract, teach, and reinforce technology skills.

Financial institutions are facing challenges in recruiting and retaining the diverse talent required to spark innovation while promoting an inclusive environment. They do recognize the benefits of recruiting from a broader range of educational backgrounds as well as hiring ‘neuro-divergent’ individuals who can contribute unique problem-solving and pattern-recognition capabilities.

These changes compel financial services firms to rethink where and how they design their workplaces, which amenities they provide, and how they integrate remote workers. Future headquarters must attract, welcome, and recognize a broadly diverse workforce. And they must be conducive to innovation, start-up culture, and a bias for action.

Get the backdrop right

So how do we do this? The focal point is your backdrop, which will be highlighted in all your digital communications. This needs to reflect who you represent and what your mission statement is, thus highlighting the motive of all your communications and the goal of all your transaction discussions.

The second is your office space, it needs to be more casual so that you do not miss the freedom of the home environment, due to which there is so much resistance to come to work full time in the office. Maybe, foot stools to put your feet up and relax while making your spreadsheets.

The third and most important is the customisation of each workstation tailored to the professional inhabiting it, and making sure each is depicting the personality traits of the inhabitants. With some basic structures that can be constant once there is an employee turnover.

Mini gyms are the most important aspects in making offices emotionally friendly and fun places to be as we are back to invariably spending long hours at the workplaces. Make working places fun to be in with mini pods in case of snooze time or isolation. And bigger areas to play golf and have a board meeting simultaneously…