Digital Transformation

New ways of working taking online banks by storm

7 June 2017

New ways of working taking online banks by storm

The face of bank services and they way we use them is changing. Nowadays, customers are showing signs of mistrust in traditional banking institutions. Banks are empty. Customers want tailored services and above all, they want them now. These changes all boil down to the digitalisation of banking services. Traditional French banks caught on to this fifteen years ago and have all launched, bought out or taken a subsidiary online bank. To be able to quickly and easily adapt to changes in the market, banks are duty-bound to create new production methods that are customer and not product focused. Online banks represent, for traditional banks, an opportunity to offer innovative services through new ways of working. Scroll down for a spotlight on activity drivers and their impacts. 

Revamped workplaces

For employees, digital tools are becoming commonplace, with smartphones, tablets, connected devices, etc. Such tools are an investment for offices and have an impact on our relationship with work. Today, customer relationship advisers not only have to learn how to manage their clients remotely, but also their colleagues. There are now many solutions offering more interactivity regardless of location, such as working from home (a big one with BforBank), video conferencing, and online sharing platforms (Dropbox, Trello). The divide between work and private life is becoming blurred, and the office walls are tumbling down. What we’re seeing now are flexi offices and hot desking as the newest trends. At online banking premises, workplaces have been revamped with these market changes in mind. The running themes within these new environments are more collaboration, digitalisation, and better well-being for better production.

When Boursorama moved premises in 2013, the French bank used it as an opportunity to relocate its HQ to the trendy green district of Boulogne-Billancourt in the Western suburbs of Paris. The new office spaces are open, spacious, with more light and a friendly inviting atmosphere. At BforBank, the down-time areas give employees beanbags and foosball tables. Open plan areas are also personalised with basketball hoops, for instance.

Modernized management methods

The development of these new working environments also comes with new management methods. More proactivity? Then how about trying out agile methods! At ING, the challenge was met. The company cut lead times for delivering new services in half, according to Cédric Palloure, Head of Agile Project Transformation at ING France.
Companies aren’t shy about using startups as inspiration for boosting their response times. The decision maker level has come down at Boursorama, and collaborative working is happening more and more. We’re seeing stand-up meetings for instance, where each morning ING employees have meetings – as the name suggests – standing up. To boost innovation, we’re putting an end to working in silos to foster internal networking instead, by mixing inter-team expertise (marketing, business, IT, skilled work, etc.). We’re refocusing on the employee too, as a catalyst for production. The more responsibility and autonomy they’re given, the more motivation they’ll have. Each employee can offer suggestions for improvement, and take part in the continual progression of internal processes.

Giving employees the royal treatment

So how can we attract the best talent and keep it? Recruitment at online banks is a different kettle of fish to what goes on in their traditional side of the business. The tone is friendly, fun, uninhibited and at the same time professional. ING, winner of the Top Employer 2016 label, openly describes its workspace as being “relaxed but focused”,  playing the fun and friendly card: “According to our research, having a cuddly toy lion in the workplace promoted concentration and calm.” BforBank goes one step further and has created a specific site entitled “Welcome to the jungle”. Here the focus is on fun and the company culture by stating that “first of all, we hire personalities.” Today we want to create teams that perform well, and not just bring together skill sets. Online banks are adapting their strategies to what millennials want. This generation is born with a smartphone in their hand instead of a bottle. They want to be heard, move quickly up the ladder and work in a nice environment. We’re also now breaking down the workplace dress code. At BforBank, the traditional shirt and tie has been ousted and replaced with jeans and sneakers. Beyond the work environment, employees want to feel good, with team breakfasts, after work drinks, themed evenings and, of course, a foosball table!

The success of online banks has undoubtedly sparked some jealousy. Their traditional banking counterparts, suffering sometimes from a negative image, are starting to question their organisation. Thanks to their own online banks, they can now move forward more easily and start their transformation. The challenge, though, is how to be quick and agile like a butterfly when you’re the size of an elephant? The answer is in our next article.

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