The working from home revolution will morph into a hybrid model as ways of working – and the skills needed - are changed for good.

Our observations during Covid-19

  • Banks generally managed the mass transition to remote working highly effectively. Some staff carried on manning branches and small teams of key personnel maintained a presence in offices for vital functions.
  • A pressure point was servicing and administering the almost overwhelming number of applications for government-backed relief loans in some jurisdictions such as Australia, the US and in the UK. Banks drafted in large numbers of temporary staff to support.
  • Overall, productivity actually rose in many countries as staff adapted swiftly to working from home. This may have been a short-term ‘sugar hit’, with productivity flattening somewhat as the pressures of combining work and home life continued.

Predictions of a new reality for banks

1. Working models will be changed permanently as corporate real estate is also reimagined

There will be no rush to return to offices and significantly higher degrees of remote working than pre-crisis will persist in a hybrid model. Staff will work more digitally and collaboratively, just as customers embrace more digital interactions with banks. Corporate office requirements will be reviewed and in some cases significantly re-engineered. In Work anywhere, together, KPMG in the  estimated potential savings of up to $10,000 per employee per year,1 the attractions of reducing real estate are clear.

2. Offshore service center disruptions will lead to a changed approach

The severe impact of lockdowns on offshore service centers in locations such as India – which were only equipped to function with staff on-site – will lead to a re-evaluation. Banks will work with more than one service provider to spread risk, bring more activity back on-shore in managed service arrangements, and drive up levels of automation and digitization.

3. Automation will be utilized ever more widely

Automation will be embedded ever more widely across the enterprise for repeatable, cognitive tasks – freeing staff up to focus on ‘moments of value’ that enhance the customer experience. Increasingly, the tasks that staff perform will be evaluated in terms of their upstream and downstream impact on the service delivered to customers.

4. Leadership and management skills needed will shift

In a more distributed working landscape, the capabilities and attributes that characterize highly effective leaders and managers will change. With less frequent physical proximity to teams, and fewer ‘corridor’ moments, leaders may need new kinds of skills in order to motivate team members more remotely and be able to ‘read’ and understand how people are reacting and responding to objectives, targets and feedback on performance. They will need to drive an inclusive, high performance culture. Organizations should harness this opportunity to take a look at changes in workforce composition, attraction, retention and development policies from both a physical/geographical perspective, and to understand if they have the level of inclusion and diversity necessary to set themselves up for future success.

5. Investing in the right support and training for staff in a challenging era will be key

With challenging economic conditions likely to persist, banks will need to significantly invest in supporting their people. Upskilling or re-skilling may be required, in part due to lower levels of external recruitment and in part due to the more remote and digital environment. A focus on ensuring staff are aware of cyber security protocols and best practice will be important, as will investment in collaboration platforms that are highly cyber secure. Mental health and wellbeing support will be another crucial element due to the new conditions and dynamics in uncertain times.

Take action now:

Listen and reflect – don’t rush back

Banks in fact have an almost once in a lifetime opportunity right now to review how they operate and think about the future. Listen to your staff and your customers. Don’t waste the crisis. Think creatively and consider all options.

Leverage what this period has proven

COVID-19 has proven that working in a different way is possible – now, focus on how that can be continued sustainably. Challenge your own culture and thinking. There is a huge opportunity to decisively accelerate shifts that were already happening – workforce reshaping, increased automation, digitization. Design for people and their ways of working, throughout their day and throughout their career. Enable experiences, with an ecosystem of tools and technologies working together. Shifts in technologies should consider the combined impact of features and integration. Now is also the time to ensure that policies supporting diversity and inclusion are high on the agenda.

How will you support your leaders to drive change?

It will be crucial to invest in and support all your people. But your leaders are particularly critical because they are the ones who will need to drive and direct change. Think about how you can support them, what tools or training they need, so that they can truly support their teams and bring everyone on the journey.

Country Insights

Explore how these trends are unfolding in your country using the interactive map below.

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— Nordic — Denmark Spain — Colombia — Canada (English) — — Canada (French) UK — China — Australia — — Germany US —