COVID-19: The world’s biggest ever technology pilot

The power of the digital workplace has never been clearer

As social distancing measures have taken hold of communities around the world, we are all having to explore new ways of interacting with one another. Technology has become our window to the world, including the workplace.

Mass lockdowns have seen tens of thousands of our employees work from home for the past few months – enabled by new digital workplace capabilities that give them what they need to stay productive, connected and safe.

For up to 75 per cent of our global workforce across 59 markets, instead of tapping into one of our physical offices with an access card, they now log onto the Bank’s VPN – made possible by a 600% increase in our global VPN capacity since February this year.

Morning chats around the coffee machine have become virtual tea breaks and office catch-ups are now online check-ins. More than 80 per cent of my colleagues are now using our real-time instant messaging, screen-share and conferencing capabilities – allowing teams to interact virtually from their desktop with colleagues globally. This will rise to 95 per cent by the end of the year, as we increase our network bandwidth around the world.

What’s more, our employees are now meeting clients ‘face-to-face’ virtually using our suite of video conferencing tools.

As a result, we’re now experiencing record usage levels of our communications and collaboration tools, proving the adaptability and digital fluency of our workforce. From January to June this year, more than 315 million minutes of meetings that previously happened in offices, were conducted over our audio and video conference services instead, thanks to the rapid acceleration of our transformation as a digital workplace.

We’ve also sped up delivery of our cloud-based solutions. The Bank’s applications and data are now accessible from any device – corporate or personal – through the roll out of a Bring Your Own Mobile Device platform, now available across 54 of our markets.

Taken together, these steps represent a significant step up on our pre-COVID-19 technology capabilities.

It’s no exaggeration to think of what has happened to workplaces and human interaction in the wake of COVID-19 as the world’s biggest ever technology pilot. People are trying new tools and engaging on new platforms and with that, expectations and needs are changing. This has not only validated our long-term digital workplace strategy but accelerated it at speed.

New digital capabilities are no longer merely ‘nice to have’, but essential for individuals to be truly productive, wherever they work.

Looking to the future, many of our colleagues have told us they want the flexibility to choose where they work. In fact, in a recent global survey we conducted, nearly 77 per cent want to work more flexibly and 71 per cent want to continue working from home at least two days a week once restrictions are lifted.

We will continue to invest in digital capabilities which will enhance teamwork, innovation and agility, while meeting our sustainability goals by reducing travel, paper and other resources.

At this point, we don’t know for certain how much longer social distancing will be necessary. What we do know, however, is that the power of the digital workplace has never been clearer, and that the way we work, organise our lives and build communities has changed forever.