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The workquake in financial and capital markets businesses

It’s hard to overstate recent changes in work and work culture. Indeed, our recent research into working practices at private equity, fund manager and asset manager firms has found that nearly half of workers in this sector are now expected in the office only one or two days a week.

Technology has been a great enabler here, though some firms are doing far better than others in securing its benefits, and at preparing for a future that promises yet more disruption and opportunity with the spread of AI-enabled work.

You can read about this and more in Workquake, free to download on our website. Here, we share research findings and insights into the associated elements of work and IT since the pandemic and discuss organisational readiness for the next wave of transformational technologies.

Organisational fluidity
Businesses want to be safe and secure, but they crave agility and flexibility too. Some 78% of respondents to the Workquake survey say that their organisation has deployed new tools and technology to support hybrid working and collaboration. At the same time, some 45% of respondents say that their company’s adoption of hybrid work has increased cyber security risk.

In-house IT teams, stretched further than ever before (see below), used to hear, “I need this system to work better or quicker,” but are now hearing, “we need to collaborate with this organisation,” or “I need to share data safely with this person right now.”

In the quest for fluidity, IT has become more than functional and is now seen as a business enabler, solving problems that affect the bottom line. Businesses are grappling with several hot topics and questions, some of which you probably recognise from your own work conversations.

Questions to consider for your firm’s transformation journey

  • How can an acceptable security posture be achieved in harmony with being organisationally fluid?
  • How do we embrace new tools to support a new hiring strategy that brings in a broader geographic talent pool, without creating technology overload?
  • How can we share and access data widely, but at the same time retain control and visibility for the right workers at the right time?

The role of IT is no longer just to maintain ‘business as usual’ but to help companies solve ever more complex questions. The most forward-looking organisations are thinking of the future in this way, and they don’t want their agility to be compromised by not having the right tech set-up.

Diverging experiences of work
Most respondents to our survey reported productivity boosts from the workquake but it’s not a rosy picture everywhere. Some 12% of workers polled say hybrid work is hindering productivity, and a further 23% report no productivity benefits. There are responses that state workers have too many tools to be productive, or have too many passwords. Some 37% of those who report negative or zero productivity benefits from new tech say that they have difficulty using tools to access or retrieve information and some report this as a daily occurrence.

Fortunately, some solutions are in relatively easy reach. Passwordless login – using biometrics such as Windows Hello or FaceID – and Single Sign On (SSO) are examples of technologies that make the organisation more secure and life easier for the user. It’s also important to remember that people are spending less time face-to-face which means fewer casual learning opportunities. Training, that has been in many ways the Cinderella of workforce issues, will soon be taken more seriously as its impact on the bottom line becomes clear through the benefits (or lack) of incoming AI-enabled technologies.

Questions for your firm’s transformation journey

  • What do your employees think? People who work with great tech are proud of this fact, and they want to promote it. If you want to know how good your tech is, ask your workers.
  • Is technology being procured and implemented to support human and business plans? It’s less about how good a piece of technology is on its own, and more about how it integrates with the rest.
  • Are you providing serious, structured training? How do you expect your workers to get the most out of new technologies? Might you be missing out on a latent productivity gain?

IT pros become business partners
The breadth and depth of what IT teams, especially smaller IT teams, are being asked to do on top of business as usual has greatly increased. New security issues, moving to cloud, the proliferation of tools ushered in during the Covid years, more frequent updates and more use cases for IT generally, are just some of the pressures.

The best IT teams have attracted and retained the right ‘N’ (communicator) and ‘T-shaped’ (specialist) individuals or augmented internal capability through relationships with trusted partners. They’ve evolved to be more business facing than technology facing, freeing themselves to be more collaborative and engaged in adding business value.

In our workquake survey, some 59% of IT professionals say IT budgets have seen no, or not enough, increases to deal with the changes brought about by hybrid work. This is despite 78% of respondents saying that IT teams now have to cover new work with extra hours or cut back on activities in other areas to service hybrid work demands.

Questions for your firm’s transformation journey

  • Do we have the right balance of specialists and communicators in our IT team to take us where we need to go and navigate further change and transformation?
  • Is your organisation properly resourcing the demands of IT-management for the (perhaps permanently) distributed workforce?
  • Has the switch to hybrid ushered in new risks that a review or audit might uncover?

The Golden Fleece: productivity
The good news for fans of the changes flowing from the workquake is that twice as many people feel that hybrid working has improved organisational productivity than believe it has had zero or negative impact. Some 61% of respondents say hybrid working has actually improved organisational productivity.

Progressive firms are making the introduction of new technologies an integral part of the way they operate, creating working groups empowered to change the way the business offers and uses new tools. This review process is continuous, replacing old systems and practices, so that the workforce is not faced with bottlenecks of intense avalanches of complexity.

Questions for your firm’s transformation journey

  • What are workers complaining about with regards to productivity and technology?
  • What level of knowledge does the workforce have about the features and potential of the tools they already use?
  • How can you introduce and promote new and better ways of working with technology?

Where is your organisation on the spectrum?
If you’re still reeling from the changes in work following the pandemic years, the news is that more is on its way with the wide availability of more powerful technology, and much of it enhanced with AI-powered capabilities. Organisational readiness for this is on a scale, or a spectrum. We’d be happy to talk to you about where we think you are on this journey and what you need to do to prepare yourself and your business for what’s to come. To find out more, download our report.

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