The value of seniority in traditional organizations is less about accumulating vacation days and more about knowing how to get things done and who to go to for what. In the past, this “tribal knowledge”—information and experience from veteran employees—was buried in hard drives or only passed down firsthand.


Today, collaborative technologies are allowing financial institutions to become more flexible by documenting, accessing, and leveraging the collective knowledge of many people across global locations.

In my last post I wrote about how banks can use collaborative technologies to move away from the quicksand of email. Agile processes and flexible workspaces are two more benefits of workplace transformation that can help banks better use their greatest asset: their people.

Think past the process

According to Fast Company, the average company loses more than 25% of its productive power to organizational drag: processes that waste time and prevent people from getting things done. Nowhere is this truer than inside large financial services institutions.

Problems arise when the process becomes more important than the result. This is one of the primary issues at the root of organizational drag and the slow-to-innovate nature of financial services. Like any system that carries more weight than it was designed to bear, financial services reels underneath layers of processes created in response to a decade of regulatory changes and compliance requirements.

The result of process overload is that employees spend lots of time communicating about the minutiae. There’s less time to innovate or think about the way work is done, including looking at what other lines of business are doing, to know if there are more efficient and effective ways of accomplishing strategic goals.

How can banks become more agile?

Collaboration technology can help peel away those layers. Through collaboration, banks can develop greater business agility by breaking down the silos that naturally develop around lines of business, and by identifying better ways to work inside today’s challenging regulatory environment.

59% of enterprises surveyed by Dimension Data say that collaboration technology has met their expectations for making business processes more efficient. Another 20% say it has exceeded expectations.

Lines of business could benefit from collaboration platforms that encourage collaborative decision-making in a number of ways:

  • Increase opportunities to communicate outside your immediate team to understand what projects other lines of business or workgroups are involved in
  • Discuss the reasons why processes exist and how they can be better
  • Enlarge the discussion to include a greater collective knowledge
  • Move communication from email to collaborative technology. This helps ensure that everyone is included, lets you know who is informed and allows new group members to quickly get up to speed—through one easily searched conversation thread
  • Avoid duplication of work and unnecessary work by involving people from multiple areas of the bank to share knowledge
  • Reduce the number of meetings and increase productivity as employees work on projects in a more fluid, natural manner during times that work best for them

Insurance attracts Millennials with flexible workspace

Insurance firms struggle to recruit Millennials. Research conducted in 2015 by The Hartford reveals that only 4% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 say they’re drawn to insurance as a career, with many describing the industry as “boring.”

Many companies have introduced greater flexibility with remote, work-from-home options. Flexible workspaces also promise greater appeal to a younger generation of tech-savvy employees.

Large U.K.-based insurance provider RSA Group has laid the foundation for employees to connect to each other via Wi-Fi at any place, anytime, on any device. Employees can roam between floors without losing connections, log into any desk phone to personalize it, and choose a quiet room in the morning and a team room or coffee shop in the afternoon.


“We wanted to change the culture.”

James Sandell, Group IT Delivery Director, RSA Group


The shift toward flexible workspace also saves money by using assets more efficiently. RSA Group can predict the change in space requirements when a percentage of employees will be out of the office due to remote work options.

  • Before RSA Group introduced a flexible workspace, approximately 10 percent of the desks were unoccupied at any given time. Now the desks are fully occupied, with one desk for every 1.3 people.

Learn more about the RSA Group success story in this quick video case study:  


Trailblazing: Cisco’s own workplace transformation

Like RSA Group, Cisco has recently upgraded our own workspaces. We couldn’t call ourselves experts on workplace transformation before living it ourselves. One of the initiatives we undertook included flexible workspaces with activity-based “neighborhoods” that provide choices of different work environments.

We also integrated collaborative technology, installing ubiquitous wireless so that users could choose to work on any device in any location. We digitized every building with the internet of things sensors that monitor who is on the campus and occupancy sensing to understand how to best use our space.

Cisco achieved tremendous cost savings and improved employee satisfaction through our workplace transformation efforts:

  • Even though the workforce has increased 20%, real estate portfolio has decreased 30%
  • 17% increase in employee engagement
  • 17% increase in workplace satisfaction
  • 15% increase in work/life balance
  • 11% decrease in safety incidents
  • 72% of new hires stated that the workplace had a positive impact on their decision to work here


What’s next?

These are the kind of transformations necessary to better work across lines of business and perhaps even to reinvent the banking model we know today. Financial Services cannot look to the future while grounded in process and stuck in an isolated position behind a desk, drowning in email.

Learn more about how collaborative technologies can unify your workforce and free up space: 

Team Collaboration

Flexible Workplace Design

Cisco Workplace Analytics

For more information on Cisco Financial Services please visit us at www.cisco.com/go/financialservices



Kami Periman

Financial Services Subject Matter Expert

Marketing & Communications