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Collaborating across borders: How the banking and finance industry can succeed in a post-Brexit world

By David Goulden, Product Director, Clarizen

It is already clear that it’s likely that more and more teams will be dispersed across numerous time-zones and locations as Brexit is implemented, with more employees expected to be working remotely. Connecting a relocated and dispersed workforce is a process that needs to be managed with extreme care. Otherwise, it can cause serious disruption to day-to-day activities. As a result, businesses need to embrace technology to less the blow of Brexit.

Banking and financial service organisations need to remain business to agile, stay ahead of their competitors, make decisions faster and drive efficiency across the business. To achieve this, they need to have the right tools in place to ensure scattered teams can communicate effectively and implement a standardised and coordinated way of working so that employees do not have to shift between numerous applications to complete tasks, collaborate on projects, monitor progress, manage resourcing and track deadlines. Fortunately, disruption can be minimised by using tools that nurture collaborative working environments that are not impacted by geographical differences and offer structure that ensures employees at different locations are able to act as a unified team, working together in real time.

Overcoming the hurdles of working from disparate locations

David Goulden
David Goulden

Remote working is a highly flexibly and popular way of working. Yet, many businesses are still trying to overcome the barriers it presents to communication and collaboration. Before the banking and finance industry begins relocating teams, it needs to ensure some key issues related to remote working are resolved ahead of the implementation of Brexit. Otherwise, the serious and negative impact they have on effective collaboration, productivity and business agility will only be aggravated.

Research conducted by Clarizen shows that some of the most prevalent issues workers struggle with when working remotely include:

  • Difficulties with being able to communicate with colleagues;
  • Struggling to remain efficient;
  • An inability to access to up-to-date documents;
  • Not knowing which tasks to prioritise

These issues clearly hamper productivity and business agility, and companies need to have strategies and solutions in place to resolve them before Brexit occurs – or the challenges will only get tougher. Many organisations are already behind the curve and are playing catch-up as Brexit becomes closet, which has led to rash decision making that misaligns with corporate strategy.

Providing employees with the means to succeed

The banking and finance industry needs to ensure employees are equipped with tools that help promote coordination between scattered teams while ensuring efficiency remains high.

Recent research from Clarizen found that almost three quarters of respondents said that what they need to boost communication and collaboration among employees is technology, structure and support that enables them to transcend geographical barriers and bridge the gap between time zones to maximise productivity, ensure management oversight and encourage flexibility.

This can be achieved with a cloud-based platform that enables real-time collaboration across locations and empowers teams to coordinate workflow, track progress, align goals, allocate budget and meet deadlines from any device and location.

Dealing with the scourge of communication overload

Businesses need to ensure that they pick the right tool to tie workplace interactions to business objectives. Social media apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, are popular with businesses because they facilitate easy and frequent employee discussion. However, while these apps are viewed as a way to streamline communications between workers and reduce long email chains that cause frustration and confusion. The reality is that they encourage non-work chat and oversharing of irrelevant information that doesn’t bring employees any closer to achieving business goals.

In a bid to become more focused in their approach, businesses have been turning to business-focused communication apps. A global Clarizen survey showed that, in the past year, companies deployed one or more of the following apps to improve productivity: Skype (39%), Microsoft Teams (14%), Google Hangouts (8%) and Slack (7%). Yet, even these efforts to boost productivity often have proven futile, as they merely became a place for meaningless chit-chat and overloaded people with an endless stream of notifications and interruptions, which hamper productivity.

It’s a modern workplace epidemic that has been dubbed ‘communication overload’, which is symptomized by workers struggling to stay on top of a relentless barrage of unfocused messages, meeting requests and unnecessary interruptions. Clarizen research indicates that, in the end, apps that fail to directly link communication to business activities, aims and status updates are actually detrimental to collaboration, effectiveness and efficiency. The survey showed that 81% of respondents believe that, despite taking steps to improve communication among employees, they still don’t have a way to keep projects on track and provide management oversight – and only 16% of the companies surveyed said productivity levels were ‘excellent’ – while nearly a quarter said they we ‘just OK’ or ‘we need help’.

 Remaining successful in a post-Brexit world

It’s undeniable that Brexit presents the banking and finance industry with a number of challenges that could derail successful collaboration and put revenue and profits at risk. However, by employing tools and methods that nurture a truly collaborative environment – where communication is in a business context and reporting occurs in real time – firms operating in the finance sector can enhance productivity and business agility to thrive in a post-Brexit world.  Even though it’s still unclear what form Brexit will take, if businesses provide their employees with tools that minimise disruption, then there’s no reason they cannot successfully overcome its challenges.