Across the world, banks big and small are embarking upon their first attempts at widespread WFH. We’ve pulled together these 7 tips for the out-of-office bank to help them on their way.
1. Create a WFH policy that reflects ‘the new normal’
You may already have a WFH policy, but it most likely wasn’t designed for a situation like this. You’ll have to get the right people in the room to hash out a new set of policies, practices and controls that reﬂect the bank’s circumstances and recognise WFH could be ‘the new normal’ for quite a while. From how teams will be organised to how performance will be measured, and the tech you’ll need to pull it all off, decisions will have to be made quickly.
2. Get security and privacy right from the start
Making sure you have strong controls in place is critical, so you’ll have to make careful decisions when weighing up how WFH capabilities might expose your systems to attack. Data security, fraud, cyber security and data privacy should all be front of mind, because slip-ups can be costly. IT teams will have to beef up security, identify critical assets, monitor for threats and respond in real time.
3. Give your teams the tech they need
We’ve already touched on connectivity and security, but you’ll also have to think about tech for your teams’ workspaces and communications. With laptops ﬂying off the shelves in the US, UK and other markets, we could be facing a shortage. In that case, you’ll have to work with IT to make decisions about the most efﬁcient use of your resources. When it comes to WFH, efﬁcient communication is vital. That point can’t be stressed enough. It’s why business is booming for the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams. One major bank has reported an increase of 70% in video calls and a 191% increase in the number of participants. It’s clear you need the right comms tools in place, from messaging through to video conferencing. WFH just doesn’t work as well without them.
4. Put tech support on standby
Laptops on the blink, forgotten passwords, trouble connecting to the network… It happens every day in the office, and it won’t stop happening just because the office is empty. Your technical support teams will have to be at the ready to help bank employees navigate the inevitable teething problems of WFH. They may need to draft in more hands from across the organisation. Almost all of BBVA’s central service employees – that’s 10,000 people – are WFH without any hiccups, thanks to engineering and business continuity teams increasing system capacity and taking steps to prevent congestion.
5. Coordinate logons and calls to reduce strain on your systems
WFH is putting pressure on the systems of some of the world’s largest banks. Citigroup is now coordinating logons to its remote access system for North American and European employees to cut down on overlap and reduce strain on its IT infrastructure. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo employees have been asked to start conference calls at odd times like 2:20 rather than on the hour or half hour to cut down on congestion in its teleconferencing system. These are simple measures, but they require collective effort to be effective, so you’ll need to get the message out there that small steps of this kind can make life easier for everyone.
6. Embrace asynchronous communication
This’ll be a new concept for most people. The easiest way to explain it is to first outline what it’s not: synchronous communication happens in real time and the people involved respond to each other immediately. Think phone calls or face-to-face meetings. So, in fairly simple terms, asynchronous communication is when you send a message and the receiver gets back to you when their schedule allows them to. There’s no expectation of an instant reply. Why’s this useful? There are plenty of benefits: you can collaborate across locations and time zones; you can cater to different work schedules, personalities and communication styles; you can block out large periods of uninterrupted time to focus; you get a record of communications that can be referred back to later on; you can think before responding; and you can encourage independence. Email, Google Docs, Slack, video messages, they can all be used for asynchronous communication. All it takes is the right tools and a bit of a mind shift to unlock all these benefits.
7. Test, review, update, repeat
In the brave new world of the out-of-office bank, there’s bound to be bumps along the road. That’s why it’s so important to test ways of working, gather feedback and suggestions for improvements, and update your policies and processes. And then you do it again, and again, and again...Until you get it right. Yes, there’s a serious crisis and a lot of disruption to deal with, but this will still be a learning process and trial and error will play a big part.
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