Data analytics and the remote workforce
Before Covid struck, CEOs had idealised visions of what the future of work should look like for their businesses.
Forward-thinking companies were hopeful that attitudes would move with the times. Priorities differed amongst businesses and their leaders, but one consensus was that they would be implemented primarily in the same office environment.
However, times have changed quicker than we could have ever imagined, and, as a result, this forced businesses to change with them.
For many decades, this was the focal point of any organisation, but Covid-19 has meant that the office is no longer the principal place where work gets done for many businesses.
Over the last 18 months, many business leaders have seen the benefits that remote working brings and how it can complement the traditional office-based environment. These benefits have led to the development of a new concept known as hybrid working.
Due to its success, businesses in the banking sector have approached the 'hybrid-first' theme and reflected it in how they think about productivity, employee engagement, and organisational agility.
Essential data is the driving force of the hybrid workforce
Before the pandemic and hybrid working, firms were at different stages of maturity in their operations information and instrumentation capabilities. Over the past decade, we have seen advances through data captured from workflow tools and improved productional dashboards (including digital pictorial boards).
They were initially designed around co-located workforces with homogenous processes and were supplemented by active "on the floor" visual management and engagement by capable ops leaders. The pandemic disrupted that information flow, the benefits of co-location, and the "on the floor" level of engagement. Banking institutions have since embraced the brand-new learning curve in time for their employees' return to the physical office space.
Faced with further navigation, businesses have expressed concerns about which individuals or roles can remain remote, what that means for headcount, and, more importantly, for employee experience leaving turnover seeming like an overwhelming or impossible challenge. Yet the correct data can now allow institutions to approach this transition with confidence. It is critical that banks put instrumentation in place to capture their baseline data as quickly as possible. It will ensure they get hybrid remote workforce planning right and not miss out on any future opportunities.
Therefore, financial institutions should consider three layers of hybrid workforce data:
Capacity Planning -
The first layer of hybrid data financial institutions must monitor its workforce capability and availability for work; specifically, who is available to perform certain tasks and whether they are working remotely or in the office.
There are serious consequences when a bank doesn't have insight into this data. This scenario leads to a shortage of resources, miss-timed capacity, and backlogs of work to be processed that inevitably affect the customer experience. It can be overwhelming, especially in the absence of traditional touchpoints of in-office work. The lack of coordination can dampen employee morale and engagement, leading to lower productivity and higher staff turnover.
Of course, it's not just about the availability of people to work. It's also a matter of whether both employees and managers are equipped with the right tools to operate remotely. The shift to hybrid remote work is essentially a shift in a bank's business model, which requires training, resources, and support to navigate successfully.
The next layer of hybrid institutions must collect data to make informed decisions about their workforce, focusing essentially on time. Working from home means people are working at different times, whether working early in the morning to navigate limited childcare or working late into the evening to care for an elderly parent.
Financial institutions can make better decisions when they see how work hours translate into productivity levels and use those insights to decide where people work. "Work is very explicitly not a place anymore. It is an activity."
Work (Performance analysis) -
The way in which institutions approach this is to consider whether there's enough data about what employees and managers are experiencing right now. For example, as a credit approval moves through the system, is there a clear sense of the approved accuracy and speed? Or, if there were a spike in this kind of work, a clear understanding of what extra training would be required to prepare other support staff? Businesses with a clear sense of current workload and future expectations can utilise the talent they have available and tackle the issue head on. Thus, helping these financial institutions to work more effectively, manage and optimise their resources, and respond to new challenges, without a significant impact to the workload.
Hybrid working opens doors to unforeseen possibilities
Hybrid work comes with high stakes. Getting it wrong will result in a massive cost for financial institutions — but getting it right will lead financial institutions into a world of new opportunities and possibilities. The difference between one scenario and the other lies in whether an institution makes decisions based on its unique data.
Implementing seamless data capture at the point of work, regardless of where the work is done, opens insights and analysis to lead large-scale operations into the world of the Hybrid Workplace. Flexible and agile workforce management will be the new competitive advantage.
The challenges of hybrid remote working saw financial institutions unprepared for the new normal. They hadn't put the systems in place or developed the skills necessary to support it. But today, those organisations now have a chance to capture essential data, analyse it, and put it to good use not only for their employees and customers but for the future success and competitiveness of the business.