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New Technology to Address Compliance-by-Policy Inadequacies

In recent years, the evolutionary pace of communications technology increased rapidly. Video conferencing, which historically required specialised equipment, is now commonplace and available to all, providing an alternative to face-to-face meetings. As the necessity for all employees to work in a single location has decreased, global working practices are evolving. In sync with this cultural shift, EU and UK law makers are ensuring that blanket bans on flexible working are no longer legal or appropriate in their jurisdictions and mandating that there must be a strong – and defensible – business justification to refuse an employee’s request to adopt flexible working. However, the developing ‘work-anywhere’ culture is raising issues with communications surveillance teams in financial services organisations, as they struggle to adapt to the newfound freedoms of the staff they monitor.

The months following the global COVID-19 pandemic outbreak necessitated remote working by all financial services staff as individuals were banished from their office environment, and financial services firms were forced to quickly find solutions to enable business to continue ‘as usual’ through the crisis. This turn of events forced banks and other financial services firms to rethink the practicalities and economics of entrenched policies that were created to protect their organisations. Consequently, the residual mistrust of widespread flexible working practices has almost entirely evaporated, even as companies plan a safe and measured return to the office. Whilst there is a prevailing view that the majority of front-office personnel will continue to work in a traditional office-based environment in the future, that is not necessarily the case for middle- and back-office staff, compliance officers and those working in other support functions with whom trading staff converse and interact regularly. The scales may tip further as firms review the shifting ratio of business performance against the practical and economic advantage of reducing expensive office space. Financial News London reports that several bank executives have already begun to publicly discuss downsizing their real estate in the wake of the pandemic.

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