OPTIMISING SPACES: Office Design for Financial Services

Here at Paramount, we’ve been lucky enough to work with businesses across the UK covering a wide range of sectors.

So we thought it was about time we shared some of the industry insight we’ve gained along the way.

Optimising Spaces will be a series of blogs that take a look at the needs of some specific industries.

We’ll explore how office design can not only help to create an impressive workplace but also improve wellbeing, increase productivity, and attract and retain the best people.

First up is a sector that’s considered, perhaps unfairly, to be less creative than most; financial services.

The Financial Services Sector

A report from TheCityUK found that financial services employees contribute 1.5 times more to the economy than the average UK employee.

With nearly 60,500 legal and accounting businesses in the UK in 2016, and as we inch ever closer to Brexit, it’s more important than ever for businesses in this sector to entice and keep the best staff.

While they may have a reputation for being more conservative in their tastes, there’s no reason why the workplace of a financial services company has to be staid or boring.

We’re certainly not suggesting slides and ball pools, but with five generations working alongside each other in the workplace, businesses in the financial sector certainly need to consider how their office can meet the needs of a disparate workforce.

21st Century Financial Services

Many industries started to embrace the trend towards open-plan working in the second decade of the new millennium.

While businesses started to release staff from their desks and embrace new technology that encouraged mobility, for the most part, the financial services industry rejected the move.

With some sectors experiencing a backlash against the open-plan office, some might say that this was a wise decision.

However, while the industry worried about the ramifications on client confidentiality and data security, advances in technology, hardware and cloud computing have allowed more mobile, new technology to be used.

Financial services firms are now just as likely to have a department of software developers creating software that helps both the business and its clients.

This not only means that the business has to take their needs into account, it also means that the culture of the business sector has slightly shifted to focus on attracting the kind of programming talent that agile, tech-driven start-ups are also looking for.

That’s not to say, however, that businesses in the financial sector should have an office design that mimics those in the technology sector.

The needs of financial services staff

The financial services industry is in the perfect position to learn from the other industry sectors that adopted a tech-driven approach to their workplace in the early 2000s.

While openness encourages collaboration and communication and better hardware protects confidentiality, there are many other job roles that should be taken into consideration.

Back in 2015, academic and author, Jeremy Myerson, partnered with office furniture manufacturers Kinnarps to create their Welcoming Workplace project.

It highlighted three areas that were vital for improving productivity and well-being in the workplace; spaces for collaboration, spaces for contemplation and spaces for concentration.

Rather than focusing on an office design that serves the needs of one kind of employee, businesses in the financial sector should create a working environment that offers an assortment of spaces that meet a number of needs.

The open and closed debate

While the argument for and against open office layouts wages on, businesses in the financial sector can deftly sidestep the dispute and look at office designs that offer the best of both worlds.

With an equal measure of collaborative, social spaces and enclosed private rooms, organisations can not only meet the needs of multiple generations but also reflect the different activities that their employees undertake on a daily basis.

In some cases, it will be more than appropriate to meet an individual in a communal, coffee-shop-style space.

However, business clients concerned about confidentiality and people with more sensitive issues to discuss will require comfort and privacy.

Understanding the financial sector

At the point where a financial services business is considering an office fit-out or moving to new premises, they need to be confident that the office design company they are dealing with understands the specific needs of their sector.

If you’d like to find out how the team from Paramount has helped businesses like KPMG and Allianz improve their office design, get in touch today.

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Categories: Office DesignOffice Fit OutOffice FurnitureOptimising Spaces

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