Redefining Productivity: Is Working 9 to 5 the Only Way to Make a Living?
This time last year, if you’d asked financial services providers if it was possible for almost all of their staff to work from home, many would have told you it couldn’t be done. But as coronavirus pushed us to adapt more quickly to new ways of working, we’ve seen that not only is it possible during times of crisis, but it could actually be a sustainable change that will help workers come closer to that elusive work-life balance.
Is it time to consider how recent changes to our working habits, previously thought of as radical, may have set the example for how we will work in future? As the supposed importance of 9-5 hours is eroded, and with World Productivity Day just around the corner on 20 June, it seems like now is the time to consider whether greater flexibility with our working hours will lead to a more productive workforce – even in the ‘round-the-clock’ world of financial services. Daniel Bailey, Vice President, EMEA at Zendesk describes how this can be made possible.
Embracing flexi-time all the time
With teams logging on and off at times that better suit their lives, how can financial service providers – whose industry operates across time zones and is based around set working days – be expected to become more productive?
When Microsoft trialled the four-day work week (with no reduction in pay) in Japan last year, productivity increased 40%. The reduced number of working days led employees to find ways to make meetings shorter and more effective, and subsequently, they felt happier and more motivated in their roles. Simply put, the change drove efficiency. Four-day working weeks aren’t going to become commonplace for everyone. Instead, employers can focus on making flexible hours the norm. This could mean allocating certain ‘core’ hours of work for your team, and allowing them to flex either side of this to accomodate the needs and demands of their personal lives. Offering employees this kind of flexibility can actually enhance efficiency and ensure your employees feel motivated.
When Microsoft trialled the four-day work week (with no reduction in pay) in Japan last year, productivity increased 40%.
Supporting team efficiency
If your staff are working flexibly, internal collaboration tools are one piece of the puzzle for making sure your teams are delegating and sharing work, as well as getting timely updates on progress across their disparate work hours. Financial services teams should implement intelligent tools. By doing so, clients receive advice more quickly, and without the hassle of being passed around departments. Requests received out-of-hours can be escalated if they are urgent, routed to staff who have chosen to work later or can flex their time back later on. As a result, even with fewer staff simultaneously online, communication doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Furthermore, these tools can pull data from inbound enquiries that offer insights into the work your employees spend most of their time on. Not only does this help to plan your teams’ time, but repetitive enquiries can be automated to provide round the clock, easily accessible support. A robust help desk can be built that helps your clients to find answers for themselves, providing a simpler experience for them and freeing up your employees time.
The human touch
In the financial services industry, clients want to know that their money is in safe hands. That requires personal connection, trusted account leads and employees who can demonstrate that they care about their customers. But moving to a more fluid workday doesn’t mean that this element of the client relationship is in jeopardy – it means that it must be central to what gets done in working hours.
Considering the efficiencies mentioned above, enquiries now reach the right teams faster, and the repetitive requests are handled automatically. What remains are the most pressing concerns and queries of your customers, one where there is no alternative to human interaction to offer expertise and maintain trust.
A significant part of that trust is built on feeling valued and understood as a customer. A business equipped with the right tools can immediately see a history of the customer who has made contact, their previous issues and account information, to facilitate a genuinely helpful and personalised interaction. If multiple teams are involved in the customer’s account, it is quicker and simpler to share data from their interactions and teams, leading to timely resolutions and greater satisfaction – even in the flexible working day.
Outside of customer contact, the work time given back to your employees can be used for the creative and strategic work that boosts productivity and helps to grow the business, offering new services to your clients.
The flexible working week may sound like a pipe dream. But so did remote working at one point – yet in these unusual times, we’ve seen how resilient and capable employees can be, adapting to keep businesses running. When offered more control of their time, to focus on themselves and their personal and social commitments, and the promise of greater productivity and more rewarding work when they are in the office, working 9-5 could be the next relic from our lives before – dare we say it – the new normal.