Hybrid work: the banks’ new way to thrive

February 7, 2024
2 mins read

TLDR: The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how and where people work, and the banking industry is no exception. While some banks are calling employees back into the office, many workers are pushing for remote and hybrid work options. Hybrid work, in which employees have the flexibility to work from the office a few days a week and remotely the rest of the time, is likely to become the new normal for financial services companies. Banks will need to invest in technology to support remote work, including video conferencing and security tools. They will also need to rethink employee compensation and benefits, and make flexibility part of their culture. Younger workers in particular value remote work options.

Key points:

  • Hybrid work is likely to become the new normal for financial services companies.
  • Technology investments, including video conferencing and security tools, are necessary to support remote work.
  • Banks must rethink employee compensation and benefits, and focus on creating a culture of flexibility.

Banks are standing at a critical juncture when it comes to how and where their employees work. The direction they head could have long-term impacts on their ability to attract and retain top talent. The Covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly go down in history as an event that dramatically changed how — and where — the world works. Prior to 2020 banks were doing much of their businesses in branches and offices. The pandemic forced them to quickly transition their massive workforces to work from home. Almost four years later, leadership is changing its tune about where employees should work — with Wall Street banks like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs calling workers back into the office at least part-time. But for employees, the push for remote and hybrid work options isn’t going away any time soon, says Avadhesh Dixit, chief human resources officer at Acuity Knowledge Partners, which provides research, analytics, and technology to financial services companies. “It’s becoming a very important part of the employee value proposition,” Dixit says. “In many cases, candidates will be declining offers or declining the companies they want to work for if they’re not offering workforce flexibility.” Executives know this, too. Many expect remote and hybrid work to grow over the next five years, according to the Survey of Business Uncertainty, which is run by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, the University of Chicago and Stanford.

If hybrid work is the new expectation, banks will need to invest in technology that can support working from anywhere. “If you are a financial services organization, which is highly tech-enabled, the time has arrived for you to be extremely open to workplace flexibility,” Dixit says. Economist Nicholas Bloom says companies will have to invest in better video conferencing technology to make hybrid working more collaborative. “If you watch a football match on TV, there’s like ten, 15 cameras in a stadium, and they rotate between them to get a great view. And you really feel like you’re there and you’re in the action,” he said in an interview with McKinsey. “For a lot of meetings, there’s one camera. And that one camera’s at a weird angle. Person X is speaking and you can see his or her ear or part of their neck or their leg, and that’s it. And it feels so disconnected.”

Catering to a Younger Workforce: Remote work is very important to three-quarters (75%) of Gen Z. How many Millennials say the same? 84% Artificial intelligence add-ons for video tools can also be helpful, he adds. These tools allow cameras to auto-focus on the person speaking and can make meetings much more engaging and personal. Technology companies are rapidly developing new tools to support remote work — and over the next few years there’s likely to be even more that can help employees get their jobs done efficiently at home. Security technology is also important for remote workers, who may be logging into their work computer on public networks. Banks will have to invest in their security strategy to protect clients’ information and prevent cyberattacks.

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