ANZ Banking Group stuck to an existing IT strategy during COVID to provide employees with a simple suite of tools that each had a defined purpose, allowing it to avoid adopting too many systems in the short-term.
Technology area lead and head of teaming Susanne Novak told a recent webinar that the bank had purposely “stayed true to our original strategy that we have for employee experience”, despite the challenges posed by moving the vast majority of staff to work from home.
That strategy is to provide a simplified product set for employees to use.
“I don’t want the pandemic to take away from that,” Novak said.
“What we don’t want to see is us in a rush to throw out all of these new tools. We wanted to make sure that we were not ... giving people too many choices of what to use remotely.
“We’re really clear about the use case for each tool.”
Novak said the bank had only deployed one product during the period that was not already on its Technology roadmap.
“We have put out a new product that wasn’t on our roadmap. It was there to fill a gap that we needed and it made sense but certainly that’s been the minority,” she said.
“We have made checks to ensure we’re not in a panic state and throwing solutions [at staff] that are going to leave us in a position that we’re having to roll back and have this complexity going forward.”
Novak said that about 43,000 of ANZ’s 45,000 staff are working from home due to the pandemic.
Group executive for technology Gerard Florian said last month that the huge work-from-home transition “stretched software and infrastructure, as well as the Technology team itself, to the limit.”
Novak illustrated this with a before-and-after comparison of the bank’s use of videoconferencing.
“In terms of our videoconferencing, before we went and started working from home we were using half a million minutes a month on videoconferencing and we’re up to 2.3 million minutes at the moment of videoconferencing a day,” she said.
Since the pandemic-related lockdowns, ANZ had scaled up its usage of both Microsoft Yammer and Microsoft Teams.
These tools weren’t just on ANZ’s radar during the pandemic, she noted.
“It was something we were looking at [already] to get our workforce more flexible and more mobile.
“This has just escalated it somewhat.
“We’re really looking at how our employees can collaborate, and the videoconferencing piece, and how we can bring those two pieces together as well.”
The bank - like other organisations - is now refocusing its efforts around modelling what a return to work will look like for staff.
“I’ve just finished all of my BCP [business continuity planning] meetings and now they’re turning into return to office meetings,” Novak said.
“Obviously there’s a few challenges around government and regulatory situations across different geographies, even within Australia.
“We have our Perth workforce returning to the office from [this] week but in different states we’re looking at different scenarios.
“Our current thinking is around 35 percent of the workforce returning on a rotation basis.”
What this looks like will be largely left to individual squads within ANZ, taking into account the needs of those teams and also of the individual members within them.
Novak said there was no “set definition” of what the new workplace would look like.
“We have different business units that have different drivers that will allow them to determine what it looks like for them - what’s the best for their business, and even down to their areas and squads to self-manage and self-organise themselves during this time,” she said.
“The squads will be deciding whether it makes sense for a whole squad to come in all on the same day in the same week or whether they’ll still split.
“It really is on an individual basis and there won’t be a blanket approach in terms of each squad will do [it this way].”
One thing that would assist the bank in the return to office transition is that it has more time to consult with employees on the changes - compared to when it had to make the call to move so many to work from home.
“Planning is really key,” she said.
“We’ve had the opportunity this time to plan, test and actually even socialise our return to office booklet to employees to check if we’ve answered all the right questions.
“I think this time we’re in a more fortunate position to make sure we’ve considered everything. Not that we’re going to get it all right, but we are considering how we can get input from our employees as part of the return to office planning.”