Improving employee experience in the hybrid workplace with Microsoft 365

Though three-quarters of U.S. employers now offer hybrid work, some banks and insurance companies have been slow to embrace this emerging work model. We spoke with Ashok Krish, Global Head of Digital Workplace at TCS, about how hybrid work will impact employers – and their employees – in the financial services industry.

How will hybrid work change the employee experience in the financial services industry?

It will enable employees to shift from work processes designed for the last century to a fluid environment where they can easily share information, discover a wider range of people to collaborate with outside silos, exchange ideas, and create new products and services. Banks developed the traditional office model, using physical inboxes, outboxes, and carbon copies to transmit information. Early software programs simply digitized these desk-based procedures, and banks still use them.

Modern technology vastly broadens communication modes and enables real-time analytics and immersive experiences. In a hybrid workplace, you need to give everyone access to these capabilities, whether they are in the field, at home, in the office, or in transit. Financial services organizations that succeed with the hybrid model will greatly enhance the employee experience. They will attract a global talent pool, building a highly skilled, diverse, and motivated workforce, which is critical for an industry whose business model is innately digital in nature.

What are some of the challenges hybrid work poses for employers in the financial sector?

Banks and insurance companies carry large volumes of sensitive personal information and are heavily regulated. As a result, they have developed an information-security mindset that focuses on prevention rather than enablement. Systems and departments are very siloed, making it difficult for employees to gain access to the tools and information they need.

To succeed with hybrid work, financial services organizations will have to rethink how information flows. Decision-making cannot be restricted to the top—it needs to happen at the edge, among teams and individuals. To make informed decisions, employees must be provided with better access to corporate analytics, reports, and tools.

Another challenge is legacy technology. Financial companies often have multiple types of hardware and 20 or 30 versions of similar software, each with its own set of tools. Their rate of adopting new technologies is exceedingly slow. This makes it challenging to innovate and provide the seamless, integrated experience employees expect.

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index found that 48% of employees and 53% of managers say they are burned out at work. What can employers do to improve employee engagement and reduce stress in the hybrid workplace?

Employers need to fundamentally rethink the rituals of work. Financial services managers spend about 80% of their time in meetings, which aren’t necessarily productive. Every minute spent being muted in a meeting is a minute wasted. Employees waste time finding information, finding people, setting up meetings, and cleaning data. Everyone spends more time looking for information than acting on information. It’s a discouraging, stressful environment.

To change it, managers must transform their processes and their culture. They must embrace new technology stack metaphors (such as Microsoft Teams vs. email) to become more efficient. They must learn to become effective facilitators of digital processes and distributed teams.

How can financial organizations use technology to improve communication, collaboration, and productivity, while maintaining security and preventing fraud?

Financial organizations can no longer expect employees to attend town hall meetings and read company newsletters. Technology can help them target the right messages to the right demographic in the right form factors. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to reduce a 900-word report to a 50-word summary or generate a video, which you can send on a mobile phone.

Tools like Microsoft Teams break down silos and enable collaboration across the organization. Once managers set access controls, the platform worries about security, freeing people to exchange ideas without constraint. But at the same time, the design and configuration of these collaboration systems will make the difference between creating a noisy, unproductive culture of collaboration and a personable, productive one.

Automation, AI, and the cloud can save employees tremendous amounts of time. Instead of attending two-week training sessions, employees can receive nudges from a virtual assistant to acquire new skills as they work. In the near future, knowledge assistants powered by large language models, purpose-built for specific industry domains, will augment every employee’s productivity by providing contextual knowledge on demand. Robotic process automations streamline approval processes and free IT workers from pushing updates and patches.

These capabilities can help to eliminate workplace pain points, greatly improving the employee experience. Without a great employee experience, you cannot create a great customer experience.

At the same time, companies must maintain secure environments and prevent fraud. Companies must invest in newer tools that give them wider and deeper visibility into their threat landscape and leverage built in AI and machine learning to proactively manage threats and reduce alert fatigue. The future of security is to largely automate responses to standard threats while investing in education and change management to prevent social engineering and attacks on individuals.

How does TCS help organizations reimagine the future of work for their employees?

We provide a comprehensive solution combining infrastructure, applications, and human resources expertise into a single package that helps financial organizations deliver an outstanding hybrid work experience. My group includes people who do everything from designing applications to mapping workflows to managing the inner workings of a cloud framework, including reinventing productivity and the future of work with AI using Microsoft 365 Copilot.

TCS also invests in behavioral science research to help organizations prepare for the workplace of the future. How can financial companies accommodate gig work? How should AI collaborate with human beings? No one knows the answers to these questions yet, just as no one knew until recently how to manage hybrid work. By peering into cutting edge technology, we can pass along insights that keep our clients ahead of the curve.

Discover how you can transform meeting culture, help managers to be more effective, and drive employee engagement.

Tata Consultancy Services

Ashok Krish, Global Head of Digital Workplace, TCS
Ashok Krish is the Global Head of the Digital Workplace unit at TCS, which helps customers reimagine the future of work for their employees. His team works at the intersection of design, technology, and behavioral science, and helps conceptualize and implement modern, persuasive, and immersive employee experiences. Outside of work, he is a columnist, musician, and a food science enthusiast.

Financial Services Industry, IT Leadership, Remote Work