Evolving communication in the financial services industry

This article is sponsored by Logitech.

Image courtesy of Chris Montgomery

Since its founding in 1981, Logitech has been connecting people through its focus on innovation and designing products and experiences that have an everyday place in people’s lives.

Today, Logitech empowers organisations as they navigate the changing nature of work, so that they can address the trend towards remote working and hybrid workforces. This is especially true in places that have experienced long and strict restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Transformations in the workspace

In Asia, Logitech’s imprint can be seen on the financial services industry (FSI). One of the sectors we work with in the region include the majority of larger and second-tier financial institutions in Australia. Our extensive network reflects the long-running relationships built with not just client institutions, but also the consultants who assist them in designing and testing room systems and products. This practice is typical as many of the larger enterprises may have up to a thousand rooms and consultants assist with creating systems and the groundwork when it comes to room designs and schematics.

Enterprises in the FSI are generally looking to bring on board technology solutions for their internal communication and collaboration. Many of these companies and institutions have dedicated teams, usually under headings such as “employee experience”, “employee enablement”, or “workplace technology”, typically under the purview of the CIO or CTO. These develop a larger vision for Unified Communications (or UC, i.e. the integration of multiple communication methods) in the workplace, which is realised through the software and hardware installed at the user level.

As one would expect, FSI is used to large-scale projects, and audiovisual rollouts and refreshers, but even with support from expert consultants, the challenges lie in transitioning away from legacy applications and systems, and moving towards newer platforms and applications that are more in line with their workforce demands and customer needs.

While recent changes are often associated with the pandemic, it is part of the workplace transformations that were already happening. Over the last three years, we’ve seen a fairly big move away from the legacy applications that used to manage the FSI’s overall UC platform, towards applications like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Google Meet, specifically for their videoconference applications. Banks generally have 600-1,000 rooms, so this transition is a long process which can take two to three years.

Despite their resources, expertise and motivation, many companies in the FSI industry may still find the task of changing their long-familiar platforms daunting: one Australian bank undergoing transformation had not tested solutions outside its previous platform for 20 years. 

Towards remote working and hybrid workforces

Before COVID-19, only about 5-10% of the workforce could regularly work from home. Banks, in particular, tended towards very traditional expectations of their employees, and did not have a significant work-from-home culture.

Today, in the aftermath of the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, the figure is predictably much higher. Variations can be observed based on the experience of particular regions. Let’s take Australia as an example: the city of Melbourne had long periods of relatively severe lockdowns. Certain organisations there have seen only 30% of their workforce return to the office, and even this may not be for the five traditional workdays. On the other hand, Brisbane and Queensland, with relatively less need to work from home over the course of the pandemic to date, have seen 70-80% of the workforce returning.

Despite concerns from different quarters about the possible loss in productivity caused by a dispersed workforce, many in the FSI actually regard these developments positively: people are more productive as a result of enjoying the more flexible work arrangements amenable to them.

In the long term, there will likely be a roughly 50-50 split between those working in an office and those working remotely, depending on the role of the employee. Organisations are rethinking office designs with less space for desks, and more open areas, collaboration areas, meeting rooms, and so on.

There are a lot more meetings, whether scheduled or ad hoc. People are coming to the office to get together, meet people or collaborate, then go home to do their work.

With this increase in meetings and a dispersed workforce, expectations have changed apace. Some organisations envision a one-on-one experience for all participants in a meeting, whether you are actually in the meeting room or not, to help ensure meetings are more inclusive. For example, it is important for a participant to see everyone even if they’re not physically present. At the same time, with people becoming used to linking devices at home, they sometimes wonder why such functionality isn’t as present at the workplace.

Companies like Logitech are bringing their technology in line with clients’ expectations. What is important is the building of relationships and trust within an organisation. While the technology that Logitech and other providers supply can – to an extent – replicate the in-person office experience for hybrid meetings, relationships are best reinforced with face-to-face meetings, even if just once a week, month, or quarter.

Making the connections for customers

While some visions of the future workspace have yet to be realised across the board, Logitech works closely with customers to ensure that their day-to-day needs are met, even as the corporate landscape evolves.

For example, there used to be a measure of variation in how different regions of a multinational corporation might onboard solutions for their operational needs. This allowed regions some measure of speed and agility in meeting their own requirements. This is changing, however, with a greater push towards global standards (especially for UC), and the growing capabilities to achieve those global standards.

Here, one of Logitech’s strengths— that its products have the flexibility and ability to work over multiple platforms—comes to the fore. With the onboarding of new technologies and efforts for standardisation, situations where a client company may want to change and adapt become more frequent. This flexibility to adapt the product into different platforms is important. 

Building platforms with users in mind

As more and more companies of various sizes around the globe develop their communications platforms to address the changing nature of work, many of them have questions about the best way to go about it. For companies looking to develop UC platforms, introduce those that can give wide-ranging tools such as messaging, video, phone, and so on. The capability to work globally – allowing employees to communicate internally with each other, and externally with clients – is also important.

The main advice would be to get products in to test, get them in front of users, conduct some trials, and then get their feedback. Checking in with users through regular meetings, even if short, can also help. It’s not so much to check up on people, but just to check in on them.

Ultimately, it’s about the user’s experience, and you want them to have a good experience.