Skip to main content

Returning to the workplace: a human-centric approach to building resilient financial services

woman with a face mask working on her laptopThis year, every financial services organization has confronted the importance of resilience. In the context of a crisis, we think of resilience as enabling survival. But from a wider perspective, resilience is about easily meeting the future demands of customers.

The first article in this series discussed the importance of resilience, which is receiving renewed attention due to COVID-19. The second article featured a conversation with EY about how they use the cloud to build resilient infrastructure that supports their clients.

But technology alone won’t make your bank resilient. People must come first when you’re designing a resilient infrastructure because the ultimate purpose of digital maturity is to meet customer and employee needs. The full equation for a successful infrastructure is people + technology.

In this article we’ll look at how the human-centric approach applies to a particular challenge brought on by the pandemic: transitioning back to in-person work. We have released a Return to the Workplace solution built on Microsoft Power Platform that helps companies make that transition more safely and smoothly.

This solution enables banks to design and build for tomorrow, not just for today, thanks to the capabilities of Power Platform. The digital maturity of the platform supports resiliency because it has controls and flexibility in place, so you can design the modern and agile workplace of tomorrow that considers everyone’s needs.

Addressing the return to work for everyone involved

The return to work means more than just opening offices and allowing employees to walk into physical locations. It’s about how businesses respond to immediate needs, reset for the new working environment, and renew their operations for future growth.

For a human-centric approach, you need to make sure that employees and customers feel comfortable interacting with each other. That may mean returning to the workplace in phases so you’re not making all your employees walk into the building on the same day. You want to consider health and safety by accommodating mandates such as cleaning, sanitizing, and contact tracing.

When we started developing the Return to the Workplace solution for Microsoft, we focused on people first. We identified and spoke to these four groups of people, who all have different roles to play in the process:

  • Company leaders, who look at regional factors and decide when to open a location.
  • Facility leaders, who prepare locations for opening and monitor occupancy, staff, and supplies.
  • Employees, who book available space, check in to their workplaces, and perform self-screening.
  • Health and safety leaders, who manage cases and outbreaks and monitor employee exposure.

We are learning a lot about flexibility and work styles. For example, perhaps not everyone needs to be physically on-premises all the time. There’s a lot of potential for hybrid work arrangements.

We also considered customers, who are interacting with businesses in new ways. Where they may have just dropped into a store or branch before, now they may be leveraging online services or booking an appointment in advance to come in safely.

Designing for resilience

In listening to these groups of people, we heard problems and challenges that everyone is facing across regions and industries. We were also reminded that every organization is different and that requirements are always changing.

It may seem contradictory to address both universal and unique needs within the same solution, but Power Platform accommodates both. Publishing a tool that was originally developed for a single organization means quickly delivering value to more businesses, helping them benefit from experience and solve common problems. Building that tool on a responsive, scalable platform means that it can be updated as circumstances change and repurposed for other uses. With a platform that is agile yet cost-effective, banks can build the right architecture without having to start from scratch every time.

The Return to the Workplace solution delivers key components for a safe, organized transition:

  • A common source of truth. Information is critical, and decision makers need the right information and the right level of granularity.
  • A clear understanding of outcomes. Knowing what each person or group cares about helps meet everyone’s needs.
  • A flexible approach. Low-code/no-code solutions enable citizen developers to contribute as we all learn together.
  • The ability to look ahead. You cannot make decisions in the rearview mirror.

Organizations are also looking into how the Return to the Workplace solution could be adapted for other purposes. For example, employees could use it to determine whether it’s safe to book a ticket to a meeting in California or Florida based on the current wildfire conditions or hurricane forecast. Because the solution we built is templated, it can be fine-tuned to meet your exact needs in the future.

This adaptation and fine-tuning is possible because Return to the Workplace is not just a point solution—it comes with an entire platform that allows you to transform your business. Power Platform enables banks to develop innovative applications at speed and to scale them up using automation and AI. As a result, Power Platform activates a paradigm shift in operations by:

  • Modernizing solutions and migrating them to the cloud.
  • Digitizing manual processes.
  • Providing an exceptional experience for customers and making employees’ jobs easier.

This transformation leads to a more efficient and productive future.

What Microsoft has learned from the return-to-work journey

Microsoft already had the tools to handle remote work restrictions, and Microsoft’s collaboration systems withstood the pressure tests of lockdown. But many of the company’s assumptions and hypotheses have been challenged. As an organization, Microsoft is questioning whether everyone needs to be in the office at all times. Looking at the telemetry and the impact on productivity, it doesn’t make sense to go back to the earlier work arrangements. The way Microsoft employees collaborate and interact as a team will be different, and hybrid work is here to stay.

We don’t have all the answers. But we know the situation will change nine months from now and again two years from now, so we will continue to adapt with an open mind.

Resilience is not just a keyword. It’s an important fact of life that everyone must grapple with. Considering the capabilities of Power Platform, there has never been a better time to take action toward digital maturity.

Learn more about resilience at work and read the Microsoft resilience playbook.