Now that financial services employees have sampled hybrid schedules, they want to keep that tune playing. A classic hip-hop song offers inspiration for making a mix of remote and in-person work succeed to the satisfaction of CEOs and employees alike. The keys are empowered associates, smarter workspaces, and technology that fosters collaboration while safeguarding networks and data.

The 1988 hip-hop classic “It Takes Two” by Rob Base says, “It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta sight. Hit it!” Sure, he wasn’t talking about hybrid work in the 1980s, but when it comes to hybrid work in the 2020s, it actually takes three to make it out of sight.

We were indirectly taught what those three things are that can make it “out of sight” way back in elementary school. A noun is a person, place, or thing, and that is exactly what it takes to power hybrid work: people, workplaces, and technology (that thing).

More specifically:

  1. Empowering people with capabilities that enhance team flexibility, improve productivity, and expand innovation.
  2. Transforming office environments into smarter workplaces that connect people in new ways to help support their health and well-being.
  3. Improving collaboration, security, and networking technologies to ensure people can work securely using any device whether in the office, at home, or in between.

It is well known that many Wall Street bank CEOs want to see their employees back in the office. According to KPMG’s 2022 U.S. banking CEO outlook (Figure 1) published in October, banking CEOs envision the working environment for traditional office jobs in the next three years to be 69% fully in-office with another 24% hybrid. That’s 93% of employees in the office on a weekly basis.

Workforce - how banking employees  have changed in last 3 years: 69% fully in-office, 24% Hybrid, and 6% fully remote.
Figure 1. Banking respondents envision office-based corporate roles changing in three years.

This thinking is not limited to Wall Street banks. It’s apparent in other areas such as insurance and wealth management. Many are following guidance similar to what USAA has communicated to their employee base—anyone living within a 60-mile vicinity of USAA’s San Antonio headquarters is expected to be in the office three days a week.

However, consulting firms will say that the future is hybrid. So how can a financial institution prepare? A lot of employees aren’t going to happily resume the time-consuming commutes of yesteryear if the destination is the same office environment they left years ago. They are not going to like dealing with any friction involved in toggling between remote and in-person. Everything needs to be more efficient, seamless, and secure. Let’s take a deeper dive into the three things it takes to make hybrid work out of sight.

The people

Bank executives expect most employees to return to the office, definitely within the next three years. What that looks like from institution to institution will differ—even within organizations, because different roles are more suited for the flexibility of hybrid work schedules.

In the fall of 2022, about 65% of Goldman Sachs employees were in the office on a given weekday. That figure is down from 75% pre-pandemic.

Even companies that have touted the importance of workplace culture and tutelage have room for hybrid work.

For most employees, the Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022 shows that working from home increased their financial, physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being (Figure 2). As well as the benefits realized for individual employees, a positive collective impact is also seen when it comes to building and maintaining a strong and healthy corporate culture.

Figure 2. Impact on well-being across areas: Improvement (significant or somewhat)

Hybrid work can improve company culture and make employees happier, more motivated, and more likely to stay. Let’s assume most employees are encouraged to come in a minimum of three days a week. Employers need to learn how, when, and where people perform best.

One of the main reasons CEOs want employees back in the office is their perspective on employee productivity. This rear-view mirror perspective is understandable, as many institutions are early in the hybrid work journey to reimagine processes across the business.

The road ahead must be paved with purpose-built technology that supports the creation of new “muscle memory,” allowing employees to focus on work, increase efficiency, and enjoy their hybrid experience.

Intelligent technologies and teamwork both support intuitive collaborations and lead to more connection and engagement. Different points of view drive innovation, and a united team promotes productivity. Most importantly, it’s important to choose a hybrid work strategy that encourages inclusivity and diversity.

The workplace

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins sums up the objective of the modern workplace: “The office needs to be a magnet, not a mandate.” Employees come to the office to collaborate, socialize, innovate, and learn. They do not come to the building just to sit in cubicles or offices, or attend meetings or calls all day that can just as easily be done at home.

Free snacks, lunches, or even foosball tables might be part of the new workplace; however, investments that enable frictionless workspaces, blending physical and digital seamlessly, improve the way associates engage and get work done. Agility, productivity, and sustainability also factor into the reimagined workplace.

Hot desking, open collaboration spaces, big and small conference rooms, and private rooms are needed for an agile workplace. Not all of these workspaces are available at financial services locations. Companies need to think and act like the technology firms they’ve strived to be and create an office setting that meets their new needs.

Cisco research on hybrid work revealed that over 90% of meetings today and going forward will have at least one employee attending remotely or from home.

That is why hybrid work is both different and harder than how we worked before, when most people worked in a corporate office. It was common for employees to move between floors or buildings to attend meetings, or to dial in using conferencing tools. But to have associates regularly call in from home was very unlikely. Video was also not the norm as audio-only conference calls were common even if screen sharing on the call.

Times have changed and technology has paved the way. It is important to ensure that every participant gets an equal “seat at the table.” The goal is less about creating the same remote and in-office experiences than it is about engaging and connecting everyone.

Thus, the need to make workplaces better and smarter. Fully 96% of employees are eager for intelligent workplace technology, according to Dimensional Research.Financial institutions can make buildings as smart as digital assets with intuitive, web-based controls and dashboards.

The technology

Back in 1988 when Rob Base produced “It Takes Two,” few could have imagined the degree that technology would permeate all aspects of daily life. There’s no argument that of the three things that make hybrid work go right, technology is the enabler.

It’s a misconception to think the only technology needed for hybrid work is a meetings collaboration platform, although its impact on communications, business execution, team building, and relationships should not be underestimated. The set of technology solutions surrounding hybrid work and supporting people and the workplace is more extensive and critical for achieving business goals.

IT, human resources, finance, and facilities should work in tandem to ensure investments provide the best user experience while delivering robust security to remain compliant with regulations. These organizations can help determine the scope of solutions needed to update, retrofit, or build new workspaces with hybrid work in mind. Most importantly, advances in hybrid work technologies over the past few years necessitate a fresh look and approach rather than limping along with in-place technologies that haven’t been kept up to date.

Connectivity and security are critical enablers of hybrid work in and out of the office. Too often, remote workers cite complexity and inconsistencies connecting to corporate resources as a major drag on productivity. Poor employee experiences can have a follow-through impact on customer experience, especially if customer-facing interactions are inefficient. The goal is not to impede work but to enable it whenever—and from wherever—an employee is located.

Simultaneously, financial institutions must provide the security that the organization needs with the flexibility employees want. In a highly regulated industry, ensuring financial institution assets and customers’ assets are protected is not negotiable. More than three-quarters of employees say that cybersecurity is critical for making hybrid working safe, but less than two-thirds say their organization currently has the right capabilities and protocols in place.

Power hybrid work

For organizations to operate and grow with a hybrid workforce, it is important that investment in the right technologies and tools goes hand in hand with the right culture, employee engagement approach, and people processes. Leadership teams must embrace the new future of hybrid work and be the examples for their teams.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to hybrid work, but the key is the three interconnections of people, workplaces, and technology. If a financial institution does that well, then it will be as Rob Base concludes his hit song, “Now, when I count to three. I want you to get busy. You ready now?”


Visit Hybrid Work for Financial Services


Adam Neiberg

Global Industry Marketing Manager