IN THE NEXT 5+ YEARS WE WILL SEE MORE AND MORE CORPORATES AVAIL THEMSELVES OF CO-WORKING SPACES TO REDUCE THEIR FOOTPRINT.
Four Steps to Co-Working Heaven Co-working is gaining momentum as the latest “new” way of working. Talk of mobility, agility and flexibility has been getting tediously repetitive for many years and has only been sustained by successive waves of organizations adopting such programs. Consultancies, such as PwC and Accenture were in the first wave around 2000 AD, when laptops became (relatively) a¥ordable. The second wave was later in the decade to 2010, when tech firms themselves started to “walk the talk.” These are now in their second iteration. Global financial services firms, among others, are in a rather slow-motion third wave. They are necessarily more conservative and cautious than those in the first two waves. Confidentiality remains king, and this would seem to put co-working – which seems to be about openness rather than confidentiality – out of the picture. Or does it?
Tethered, Untethered, or Adrift All organizations have business units with di¥erent functions and workflows. Some are more confidential, more regulated, and/or more tethered to their desks: dependent on immobile infrastructure such as paper documents or specialist desk-top computer kits, and even critical face- to-face interactions. Trading floors are the obvious example. Traders are firmly tethered to dedicated and specially configured workstations. They are obliged to make any business-related telephone calls from a dedicated landline that is recorded. This is an extreme example of activity based working (ABW), where the task and workflow match the workstation. Not all functions are quite so tethered. The less tethered the function, the higher the potential for internal agility. The more the internal agility, the less the oce of tomorrow needs to look like that of today, and so internally mobile sta¥ could work from a space that looks much like the co-working spaces.
The Co-Working Wolf in the ABW Sheep’s Clothing Many financial services organizations have already started down this path. In Singapore Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered, among others, are notable to have created such spaces. Getting the numbers of workpoints (i.e. ergonomic workstations and alternative choice seats) right is a work in progress as organizations cautiously try out what could work, and what could be acceptable to their people. Fearful that people who do not have a designated home-from-home desk will resort to open rebellion (as happened in one bank in Australia), some organizations have adopted a “Fixed plus ABW” model. That is, you get your own desk plus the ability to use any of a number alternative workpoints. Other, perhaps braver, organizations have gone for the “pure NTW/ABW” model: only free-seating, as in a cinema where you choose the seat that best suits your needs – in the middle with the best view of the movie, close to the aisle if you have a weak bladder, or in the back row if you are with your girl/boyfriend.
50 ASIA PACIFIC BFSI OUTLOOK 2017
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