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Is telephone Hot Desking really needed anymore?

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By Simon Horton, VP of International Sales at Sangoma

 

The world of work has totally transformed as we all know, shining a light on every practice workforces used to undertake, and assessing whether they are indeed necessary or outdated now. Of course, arguably the biggest spotlight has been on the office itself – do staff need to be present and working in an office five days a week? Clearly the answer is no, but then what happens to the phone system we rely on daily when at the office? Many companies rely on phone hot desking, seeing employees travel from space to space armed with their personal phone number to use from phone to phone. But in the world of hot-desking, is this still required? Or has the evolution of unified communications seen this become yesterday’s news, along with the notion that every employee needs to work five days in an office.

But before I answer that question, and why I even asked it in the first place, we need to define what hot desking is. Hot desking is going to the office and sitting where you want. Maybe your company doesn’t have assigned offices or set seating spaces, so freedom of choice is total. And remember, hot desking is only going to become more ingrained in the world of work as the hybrid model of working from home continues to become the norm. Gone are the days of employees competing for seats in the morning, and having to clear their workspaces every evening, when hot desking first entered the corporate scene.

A company can now occupy a smaller footprint at the physical location since everyone isn’t there every day, leading to lower overheads and real estate costs. However, employees need their office phone number regardless of where they are sat, so when they receive calls on the phone or direct line at the physical location they sit at, they are phone calls specifically for them.

And when that comes to unified communications, which is the stance from which I write this, it means staff members taking their phone number to wherever they sit to work. And if there is already a physical phone at the place they choose to sit from day to day, that means they need to log in and tell the phone system that they are at that place – and that the physical phone at that desk should be accessing and connecting their individual company phone extension

However installing this feature into a unified communication system is not the simplest thing. Some unified communication systems support hot desking, but many do not. This needs to change, and the industry needs to keep up with the rapidly changing world of work and employee expectations.

But is hot desking of a physical phone an obsolete concept with Unified Communications? Does it even need to be in Request For Proposals (RFPs) from businesses anymore? Because with unified communication systems, a worker can make and take phone calls with their work extension from their computer, or smartphone, via their unified communications platform. And with working from home well established, and indeed work from anywhere models too as long as an internet connection is available, this needs to become the norm.

A unified communications system must truly unite every device and space that someone wishes to have at their disposal – this equates to a seamless communications experience, boosting not only productivity and efficiency, but also customer experience too. No matter where one may be working – whether from the office, from a hotel room, in their garden or while watching the big match, they can take and make calls easily.

So, the answer to the question posed is that with a robust and thorough unified communications system in place, telephone hot desking will continue to exist, but in a different guise. Every platform an employee uses will allow for individual calls to be placed and taken, and communication with colleagues and staff is seamless. However, that’s not to say that physical phones are no longer required or wanted by some – and if that’s the case, then a solid unified communications system will dial into the desk phone too and allow for that to become another part of the overall communications platform used by a company. Telephone hot desking still exists, but just like the world of work itself, it has evolved into something far more streamlined and integrated.

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How can businesses boost employee experience for finance professionals?

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By Martin Schirmer, President, Enterprise Service Management, IFS

Over the course of the last year, The Great Resignation has seriously impacted organisations across the globe. Staff are quitting in huge numbers, leaving companies unprepared and struggling to fulfil their workloads. In fact, mass departures are happening at all levels of the labour market, as employees attempt to adapt to the hybrid working model and growing socio-economic uncertainty.

In light of this, optimising the employee experience (EX) to attract and retain talent has become a top priority for employers. Organisations have come to understand the necessity of taking immediate steps to drive employee engagement and reshape workplace culture.

The financial services (FS) industry is no exception to this trend. From increasing employee burnout to growing career dissatisfaction, the pandemic has exacerbated the need for transformation across finance teams. This is exemplified by recent data from Spendesk, which found that approximately 40% of finance professionals are willing to leave their roles or already have concrete plans to do so.

Organisations looking to get ahead of the competition must put in extra efforts to retain their existing workforce. The fact is that employee expectations and requirements have irreversibly changed, with more workforces becoming increasingly distributed. Today’s hyper-connected workforce values flexibility and simplicity, and it is organisations which offer these experiences that will succeed in the long term.

As part of this process, finance companies must look towards the power of technology to create seamless user experiences across devices. From automating workflows to improving overall efficiencies, Enterprise Service Management (ESM) can help organisations to boost user satisfaction and go that extra mile for their employees.

How poor EXs are driving finance teams to quit

With over 40% of employees spending a significant proportion of their time carrying out mundane, manual tasks, it is not surprising that poor EXs are having a detrimental impact on job satisfaction. Finance teams in particular have been slower to digitise core processes, leading to a heavy reliance on manual tasks. This not only increases the amount of time spent on each task, but also impacts the engagement levels of finance professionals who cannot focus on more strategic aspects of their roles.

As a result of the pandemic, flexibility has also moved to the forefront of finance teams’ desires. Given the fast-paced nature of this industry, the conversation surrounding work-life balance has increased rapidly. Failure to offer flexible working policies, coupled with a lack of technology to facilitate this flexibility, has led to poor EXs across the board.

Most notably, the overarching move to omnichannel, digital-first approaches has dramatically reset both customer and employee needs. Finance is the third-slowest running corporate function behind legal and IT. Operating in a competitive environment, 73% of finance operations are facing pressures to speed up, improve efficiency, and prioritise automation.

Mitigating the problem using technology

ESM, an offshoot of IT Service management (ITSM), is the cornerstone of smart digital transformation for organisations. It can help finance teams to streamline and automate routine processes, such as monitoring the status of service requests, approving expenses, sending invoices, and tracking payments. In turn, this will free up employees’ time, reducing the burden of manual tasks and enabling them to focus on the more strategic tasks.

Another advantage ESM can offer finance teams is the ability to adapt to each department’s minimum requirements for data privacy. Accounting, for example, needs additional layers of compliance built into the system.

ESM can also facilitate cross-departmental collaboration, helping finance professionals to communicate with the wider business and perform tasks more effectively.  Organisations can use ESM to incorporate all internal services into a single platform, offering employees a well-rounded view of the business and promoting a sense of community across all levels of an organisation. This will boost productivity, whilst enhancing visibility and control.

Ultimately, the current job landscape has brought with it a new set of challenges. Organisations in the FS industry looking to navigate the storm and retain top talent must refocus their efforts on bolstering the EX. Embracing a new era of technological innovation that empowers employees and boosts engagement is a critical step in this process.

 

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CBDCs: the key to transform cross-border payments

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Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer, Board Director at RTGS.global

 

If you work in finance, you’ll have been hearing a lot about central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and the moves different markets are making towards using, regulating and evaluating the viability of moving to an economy based on digital currency.

We are already seeing progress in the research, piloting and introduction of CBDCs into the financial system. The Banque de France for example, recently launched its second phase of CBDC experiments in line with the “triple digital revolution” unfolding in the financial sector. The infrastructures of financial markets and fintechs, however, are not prepared to accommodate their security, stability, and viability.

This could be an issue in the not too distant future. Each year, global corporates move nearly $23.5 trillion between countries, equivalent to about 25% of global GDP. This requires them to use wholesale cross-border payment processes, which remain suboptimal from a cost, speed, and transparency perspective. In fact, the G20 cross-border payments programme considers improving access to domestic payment systems that settle in central bank money, as one of the key components in facilitating increased speed and reducing the costs of cross-border payments.

The current state of cross-border payments

International transactions based on fiat are currently slow, expensive, and highly risky due to today’s disconnected financial infrastructure, messaging, and liquidity. Wholesale cross-border payment settlement can take 48 hours or longer, which is not practical in today’s digital world. Even if not every market moves to CBDCs, in an increasingly digital era, cross-border settlements between central banks will unavoidably involve dealing with CBDCs. So, not only will we have different currencies, we’ll have different technical forms of currency being exchanged – digital and fiat – as markets adopt CBDCs at different rates, adding another layer of complexity to cross-border settlements.

While there is much anticipation about the opportunities CBDCs can bring, the adoption of this technology will only be widespread if payment and settlement capabilities are overhauled to allow for new innovations in currencies.  This need for transformation represents an opportunity to redesign existing infrastructure to support cross-border CBDC transactions.

The current cross-border payments system involves correspondent banks in different jurisdictions using commercial bank money. Uncommitted credit lines used in cross-border transactions are a potential risk for any bank that relies on credit provided by a foreign correspondent bank. Interestingly, there is no single global payment and settlement system, only a complicated network of interbank relationships operating on mutual trust. While trust has allowed financial systems to function smoothly, when it begins to fail, as it did during the 2008 financial crisis, the result can be catastrophic.

Following the crisis, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) implemented the Basel III agreement, which required banks to maintain additional capital against correspondent banking account exposures. These risk-weighted assets impose a costly capital charge on positions held by banks at other banks under correspondent arrangements. While this framework helps combat risk, it neglects to address the inherent problems in traditional correspondent banking that contribute to these risks.

Making the case for CBDCs

CBDCs can offer an improvement in settlement risks and are certainly thought to have potential benefits by the BIS. If implemented correctly, wholesale CBDCs can indeed accelerate interbank transactions while eliminating settlement risk. They can also encourage a more efficient and straightforward method of executing cross-border payments by reducing the number of intermediaries.

It is likely the evolution towards CBDCs will initially see the financial market supplement rather than replace existing payment instruments with new types of digital currency. CBDCs will coexist with current forms of money in a wholesale context, and their payment rails will also work alongside the existing payment systems. In simple terms, CBDCs will need to be linked to the broader capital markets ecosystem and applications such as securities settlement, funding, and liquidity.

If built with an innovation-first mindset, the future of banking infrastructure should provide full interoperability and convertibility between fiat, CBDCs, and any other type of digital money used in wholesale payments.

The future of CBDCs

To unlock the full potential of CBDCs, a ‘corridor network’ will need to be formed. This involves combining multiple wholesale CDBCs into a single, interoperable network under common governance agreed upon by all central banks involved. The legal framework of this platform would then allow for payment versus payment (PvP) or, where applicable, delivery versus payment settlement.

Practical wholesale CBDCs appear to be on the horizon, either as a supplement to existing financial systems or as part of a transition to a digital, cashless world. Looking ahead, central banks would benefit from collaborating with fintechs that provide innovative cloud native technology to enable seamless wholesale cross-border payments without interfering with the flow of funds. If wholesale CBDCs are to become a reality, fintechs must be prepared to accommodate them.

 

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