There are undoubtedly many social, technological and financial factors impacting upon the way our workplaces are evolving. Recently, workplace consultancy Unwork and DTZ set out about exploring just what some of those core factors are in the financial industry. The result of that exploration was published last week, and is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the future of work, whether in the finance industry or otherwise.
The report saw 100s of leading figures in the financial industry spoken to, and an extensive literature review of the sector to try and drill down in what is driving change in the industry. The study outlined five primary factors underpinning the future of financial work.
- Regulation – the increased focus upon regulation in the financial sector since the crash has been well publicised. What is perhaps less known is its impact upon the way employees in the sector can work. The report reveals that regulation and compliance have had a substantial impact upon the ability of companies to offer flexible working, for instance. There are signs of hope however with companies in Holland and Australia adopting innovative practices, despite the intense regulatory scrutiny they operate under.
- Technology – a slightly more well known factor in the changing nature of work is a technological one. Consumers have been demanding greater technological freedom for a little while, and banks are also having to respond to competitive pressure from new rivals into the sector.
- Globalisation – whilst a number of up and coming financial centres have emerged over the past few years, the main clusters in London and New York continue to dominate. The strong clusters allow both talent to coagulate around the industry, but also for support services to locate themselves in the heart of the action. This has however made office space come at a premium, with both costs rising and space per employee shrinking as a result.
- Cost pressures – with the increasing costs identified above, coupled with the squeezed margins courtesy of the tighter regulatory environment, many banks are operating under intense cost pressures. These are prompting many to create regional centres of excellence as a way to both reduce costs and improve services.
- Talent – last but not least is the talent requirements of the industry, especially in STEM related topics. This has placed banks into direct competition for talent with various technology providers. This intense competition has been a major driver behind attempts to make the workplace environment more hospitable and attractive to potential employees.
So how will these factors influence the industry in future? The report goes on to suggest a number of possible scenarios for the future of work in financial services. Here are a couple of the more salient points.
- Banks will increasingly become innovative with their property portfolio, gradually breaking the link between having a physical premise and a presence in their customers lives.
- These premises will increasingly be outside of the core financial clusters to more mixed use environments.
- In the war for talent, companies will have to become more innovative, both in the technologies they offer, but also in the workplace practices they provide.
It’s certainly an interesting report, that concludes by highlighting the important role collaboration will play in the future of work. I’ve written previously about various innovations in the banking sector, such as the National Bank of Omaha using hackathons as a major way of recruiting tech talent.
Likewise, a University of Pennsylvania study found that giving employees in a bank control and freedom over their work schedule significantly increased their productivity levels (albeit several participants worked so hard it damaged their health!).
Whilst the Unwork report was limited to insights from the financial services sector, and didn’t bring in any potential insights from other industries, it nevertheless remains an interesting report, especially for those working in the sector. You can download it here.