How a Global Bank is Reimagining the Role of the Workplace After COVID-19
As a leading international financial organization, this global bank strives to help people and businesses prosper across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
With over 75,000 employees and more than 1,000 locations globally, this large financial organization has an impressive global footprint. In 2008, the bank created a business unit dedicated to managing its global real estate footprint and optimizing its spend on properties. However, over time, that business unit’s focus evolved beyond solely optimizing real estate spend. Today, the Property function at the bank splits its focus between improving the workplace experience and optimizing space utilization across its global real estate portfolio.
In 2017, the bank surveyed its employees to find out what the major pain points of its workplace experience were that inhibited productivity.
The survey results identified that the ability to book meeting rooms was one of the main friction points for employees—something the bank’s leadership was unaware of. After tasking an agile team to investigate the causes, it was discovered that this problem stemmed from both meeting room reservation systems and poor internal practices.
With ~80% of its employees working remotely toward the end of 2020 in response to the pandemic, the bank began reimagining how its spaces would be used post-COVID.
After surveying its employees, the bank found that given the choice, 75% of respondents would prefer to have the flexibility to work outside of the office two or more days a week. The bank also found that its employees felt more productive working from home to perform individual, task-based work compared to working in the office. However, collaboration, connection, education, and creativity are all negatively impacted by full-time remote work.
Considering employee feedback, productivity numbers, strategic goals, and information from third-party consultants, the bank is actively reshaping how its offices will be used in the future. One of the primary changes will be the bank’s hybrid work policy, a formalized set of rules that enable flexible work practices—rules that enable employees to work remotely for individual, task-based projects, and work from the office on collaborative projects. Because the bank is planning to accommodate a hybrid workforce, it is redesigning its existing office space to include more collaborative spaces and decreasing the number of desks. While most of the bank’s current locations have desks occupying 75%-80% of the office space, the bank is planning to reduce that to 40%-60%. On top of the reduction in the number of desks per location, the bank is building new agile scrums and other collaborative spaces, with a significant sum dedicated to office redesign over the next five years to repurpose 80% of its current office portfolio.
When the bank initially started looking at technology to support its reimagined workplace, it quickly realized it already had the capabilities it needed through the Poppulo (Formerly SmartSpace Global) platform. As the pandemic kept most of its employees working from home, the bank continued implementing its workplace solution. Today, the Poppulo Harmony platform supports over 1,600 meeting rooms across 380 locations, and the workplace mobile app is available for every bank employee with bank-issued devices or those enrolled in the bank’s Bring Your Own Mobile Device (BYOMD) program—all in preparation for a return to the office.
With the office design changes the bank is planning, as well as its shift to a hybrid workforce, improving the employee experience—from door, to desk, to door—has significantly grown in importance vs. when the project was started.
Streamlining visitor management, enabling resource reservation via personal mobile devices, improving in-office wayfinding—each of these aspects of the workplace experience will need to be easier than ever moving forward. And this global bank is leading the way. On top of integrating sensor technology with the Poppulo Harmony platform, providing data that bridges the gap between space reservation and space usage, the bank is exploring an integrated visitor management solution as well as an integration between Poppulo and the bank’s access control platform to enable easy building access using a single mobile app.
Looking ahead at how the new office space will be used given that there will be fewer desk spaces available per location, the ability to easily reserve those desks is critical. As an example, one of the bank’s campuses has a 4,500-person capacity, yet with the new hybrid model, will accommodate a 7,000-person workforce. Given that shift, the bank’s current desk ratio of .95 desks per person is expected to eventually reduce to .65 desks per person. Because the purpose of the workplace is shifting, there will be less individual desk space, but greater efficiency in how those spaces are used. Additionally, the new collaborative spaces will also be reservable through the Harmomy platform, making it easy for employees to book desk, meeting room, or agile scrum space from their mobile devices, a web portal, and onsite digital signage kiosks. This will ensure that the bank’s increasingly transient workforce will always be assured they will have an appropriate workspace when they come to the office.
By continuing to roll out and expand its workplace management solution during the pandemic, the bank will be able to make better use of its resources as the nature of work changes, maintain the flexibility to make data-driven decisions around real estate usage, and continue to improve the overall employee experience.
Enabling Mobile Resource Booking is Critical
By empowering employees to use Harmony’s workplace mobile app to book desk space as well as meeting rooms via their own mobile devices, the bank is improving how its employees interact with the workplace. This not only streamlines how employees use office space, but also provides granular utilization information, further enhancing the bank’s ability to make more informed decisions about space usage.
Adapt to the Evolving Nature of Work
Moving forward, the bank is addressing three main pillars of the workplace experience to effectively adapt to the evolution of the office. The physical, human, and digital aspects of the office experience each carry equal weight and should all be considered prior to rolling out an enterprise solution. By conducting employee surveys and employing third-party consultants, the bank was able to clearly understand how its workplaces should change—based on the needs of each main workplace experience pillar—then rapidly make the necessary adjustments.
Collaborate With Other Teams
COVID-19 not only accelerated the bank’s five-year technology plans, but it also changed global work policies. Due to the need to move quickly, the bank’s Human Resources, Workplace, Property, and Technology teams have collaborated to implement the technologies, policies, and design changes required for the future of work.