14. June 2022 By Nehir Safak-Turhan
New work and digital workplaces – the new way of working in the banking business
Since the pandemic at latest, we’ve known that the working model that includes fixed working hours and requires physical presence is not the only option for collaboration. Our observations show that with mobile working models, flexible working hours and digital alternatives, stability and productivity are entirely possible – in the financial world as well. What has emerged out of necessity will continue to establish itself as the standard more and more in future. In the course of this, the phenomenon won’t just be limited to ‘working from home’. Instead, we’ll have to ask ourselves how we can develop new possibilities for hybrid collaboration, ensure agile processes and work steps and promote productivity, creativity and collaboration in the new workplace. Using technology expediently will be a driving force in this.
The buzzword in this context is ‘new work’. This includes structural, cultural, organisational and methodological dimensions and capabilities of an organisation and requires the holistic symbiosis of these areas. In this blog post, I’d like to present in greater detail what the term ‘new work’ actually means, how it affects banks and what the use cases that can be experienced in banking look like.
New work – the buzzword
The term ‘new workplace’ is often mentioned in the same breath as digitalisation and mistakenly suggests only the replacement of analogue work processes with digital alternatives. Yet the phenomenon is more complex and has the power to usher in an evolution in the history of our modern workplace, as new work is a megatrend that will trigger long-term structural changes and find its way into all forms of organisation. But what exactly does this term imply?
New work is a term that first came into being in the 1980s alongside the increasing trend of automation in the US. The man who essentially coined the term is Frithjof Bergmann. The American social philosopher uses the term ‘new work’ to describe a change in the workplace that essentially questions the capitalist models of work due to the fact that he no longer declares work as a means to an end, but instead places people and their needs at the centre. Hence, the point of working or providing services is no longer merely to secure one’s livelihood, but, first and foremost, to create meaning. The term isn’t just limited to a new working model, but rather serves as a basis for designing the workplace to be sustainable, the process for which is shaped by agility, holacracy and the digital transformation. New work thus implies a change in values in the workplace and requires the work and leadership culture to undergo a fundamental shift in thinking. At the same time, it requires the provision of a corresponding infrastructure in order to reconcile agility, digital transformation, performance demands and meaningfulness. Sounds philosophical – and it is!
The digital transformation as a driving force – New work in the banking business
The ability to adapt to structural changes or abrupt, unforeseeable events with agility and flexibility is a key success factor for organisations. These qualities create more room for manoeuvre and create self-efficacy in critical phases. But they also help drive innovation and create new opportunities for structuring how value is created and how services are provided. This is especially true for the financial sector, which has been undergoing a structural metamorphosis for several years. Whether low interest rates, an increase in digitalisation, regulations or new competition from tech-savvy providers, the challenges are diverse and often have a serious impact on the workplace and how banks provide their services.
This applies in particular to the workplace design in banks: coordinating and handling each individual work process, as well as ensuring smooth processing, depends heavily on the employees’ existing capacities, the use of standards, efficient processes and modern IT systems. Complex work processes, system and media disruptions as well as a lack of transparency pose considerable obstacles. Redundant entries during data collection and using data inconsistently also create unnecessarily higher workloads. Manual, paper-based process handling and a lack of systems for doing things such as initiating business deals, especially in the credit business, reduce efficiency. Outdated technologies, inflexible core banking systems and lengthy work processes complicate the necessary modernisation process and cause high cost and resource expenditures that lead to losses in efficiency. At the same time, the aforementioned obstacles have an impact on employee satisfaction, as large amounts of manual and labour-intensive processing procedures are detrimental to employees and their productivity.
The workplace design in banks plays a key role in making ‘new work’ in the banking business a tangible experience and ensuring that competence, availability, flexibility and efficiency are combined expediently. This also has implications for the design of a sustainable value creation scheme in the banking business that not only optimises processes and operations, but also creates employee experiences that reconcile productivity, user experiences and the provision of services and provides explicit solutions to subsequent challenges:
Operational excellence – executing work processes seamlessly, quicky and safely as employees and customers interact and communicate with one another.
Creating a stable infrastructure for new work – in order to ensure optimal customer service and that value is created for the bank, bank employees must have access to their workplace, and thus to systems, applications and services, at all times and, if necessary, regardless of their location.
Employee experience – creating new workplace concepts and digital infrastructures as the basis for employee experiences that combine productivity, process efficiency and user experience.
Avoiding system interruptions and data silos – the seamless integration of individual systems must ensure the functionality as well as the efficiency of work processes (including the availability and quality of data). A high degree of user-friendliness for both customers and employees is indispensable.
Self-efficacy in the face of exogenous shocks and high volatility – agile processes, flexible workplaces and a stable IT infrastructure require that banks make room for rapid adaptation and implementation. Transparency, stability of the IT systems and responsiveness to changing environmental factors (including competition, regulations or interest rates) have high priority.
Digital workplaces and employee experience in the banking business
The role of bank employees and their contribution to the success of the financial institution is intrinsic. This is also shown by studies that establish a direct correlation between engaged employees and a high level of customer satisfaction, productivity and thus business success, as well as turnover and profitability (2019 Gartner survey). The ability to bolster employees’ performance by using new work models, digital infrastructures and user-friendly systems is a critical hygiene factor for business success and the transition into the new era of new work. At the same time, not only can work processes be optimised by offering digital workplaces, but employee experiences can be created as well. For example, banking processes can be mapped completely digitally with the involvement of all relevant parties (customers, employees, the economic market, the market impacts and so on). In the target vision, digital workplaces supported all parties as a central orchestration hub and ensured the smooth, digital, case-closing execution of work processes. By mapping a central interface, the digital workplace allows information from different data sources to be transformed onto a graphical interface. This means that documents, authorisations, workflow processes, current offers or internal processes can be accessed centrally on a single interface without any media disruptions.
By using new technologies and digital workplaces, banks are able to successfully shape the dynamics of adaptation in the digital banking world and overcome the key challenges posed by the contemporary workplace design, which leads to the following benefits:
- Sustainable workplace design in the banking business
- Employee experience and retention
- The development of infrastructures for new work
- Modern, integrated and holistic process digitalisation
- Higher customer and employee satisfaction via efficient (IT) system support
- Improved process quality by avoiding system disruptions (digital workplace = one view)
- Maintainability and expandability, also with regard to digitalisation projects – time to market and the possibility of gradually (if necessary, avoiding) replacing legacy systems
- Reduction of costs (in terms of processes, employees and system costs)
Examples of use cases in the banking business
Using digital workstations makes it possible to map the entire process chain, from the economic market to the market impacts and risks, all the way to the customer service centre. Prime examples of this include:
- Loan processing and lending processes (including decisions and documentation)
- Workflow and document management (including post box and task distribution)
- Opening accounts
- Digital contracting
- Product management
The workplace is changing. This applies to banks as well. The sustainable workplace design in the banking business creates positive service experiences for customers and increases employee satisfaction and productivity as a result of optimised operating procedures, processes and systems. A successful digitalisation strategy in the banking business will also require the provision of a technological infrastructure for new forms of collaboration in future. New work will be the new normal in future and requires action.