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REVIEW: WORKTECH23: Financial Services, New York

Simon Elliot

18th February, 2023

Last week, some of the most influential work experience professionals and organizations from the financial services sector gathered in New York to explore and discuss the future of work, and workplace.

Hosted by BNY Mellon's Alicia Duncan, and co-presented by JLL's Bobby Magnano, 4xi was delighted to support the conference with Ann McNally moderating the final panel of the day - Workplace Experience.

For those that didn't get the chance to attend, here are some my observations and key takeaways from the event:

The Reinvention of the Modern Office

Philip Ross, founder of WORKTECH and CEO of Ungroup kicked off the conference talking about his newly released book, Unworking, the Reinvention of the modern office with co-author, Jeremy Myerson. Unworking takes a fascinating look at the foundations of the modern office and how that has evolved over time.

As we look toward a future of hybrid or virtual offices, this is a timely call to rethink the very nature and design of the workplace.

Over the past one hundred years, the office has been integral to the development of modern society. It has shaped the architecture of our cities, the behavior of our organizations, and the everyday movements of millions of people. In 2020, however, the global pandemic brought our attendance in the office to an abrupt halt and triggered a complete reevaluation of the purpose of the workplace.

Unworking offers a panoramic view of the office and explores what happens next. The authors advance a manifesto for “unworking”—unlearning old habits and rituals established for an outdated office and crafting and creating new ones fit for an age of digital technology, design innovation, and diverse workforces.

What do people really want?

In this new era of the office and work, what do people really want, or perhaps more to the point what have they realized that they no longer want, or not to return to old habits and rituals - it comes back to the "C's":

  • Convenience: What you want, and need, when and where you need it.

  • Community: and the yearning to have a sense of friendship and belonging.

  • Connectivity: to the business and colleagues, wherever you are.

  • Collaboration: to get things done, to make an impact.

  • Commute: is now understood for the waste of precious life that it once was.

  • Coffee (and food): is an important magnet to return to office.

No longer is a grueling commute, a dismal cubicle, a crappy cup of coffee, and a curled up cheese sandwich for lunch enough to lure people to work, let alone stay.

There has been talk about the "Great Resignation", and even in hindsight, the "Great Regret" but the reality is that people have changed, and many would say, they have changed for GOOD, for the better.

What do organizations want?

Of course productivity, revenue, and profitability are always in focus but more so today is the investment and utilization of real estate - do firms need all their space, and if they do plan to keep it, how do they optimize it, program it, to become relevant to the new ways in which we will work into the future?

There seems to be a consensus that firms want their people back, but the question becomes how often and when? From full 5-day a week mandates to what seems to be a more common and softer approach of XX days a week - coordinated in teams so that office time becomes more valuable than just going for the sake of doing so.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays seem the obvious candidates, however as noted, some are opting for Mondays and Fridays which often offer less heavy commutes, and the opportunity to build in social time and team building.

Whatever your return to work strategy, level of mandating, it must be visibly led by leadership - ensuring that the office experience is meaningful, has purpose, is a valued experience for them to be motivated to return.

How to engage with the workforce, wherever they may be?

Long on the wish list has been the all encompassing work experience app that until now has been out of reach. Organizations (and people) struggle with the adoption of multiple apps that do multiple things - it gets complicated, confusing, clunky, and adoption rates have long been challenging as a result, questioning the sensibility in the investment and the tangible outcomes such deployments drive.

Enter companies like Inpixon and Modo Labs who seem to have mastered the art of integration of existing legacy apps, platforms, and systems, and bring them into one place for a seamless, all encompassing user experience - from checking out commute options, booking a desk, meeting room, ordering lunch and a fitness class, to knowing which of your team will be in the office today, where, connect, and arrange to meet, or a social after hours.

It's apps like these that are making a difference at firms like Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and Capital One.

With adoption levels being the primary measure of success, firms who adopt an airline approach and incorporate security access can reach that 100% magic number.

How do you measure the investment in work experience?

So, you have created your plan to transform your work experience. You're proud at the level of creativity, ingenious initiatives that are not only going to get people back to work but they're going to have a lot of fun in the process! It's planned, costed, and about ready to roll -final hurdle, the CFO,

"This is all well and good, but how are we going to measure success, or otherwise?"

Of course, it's not that hasn't crossed your mind, but how do you measure what for many are soft metrics and turn them into something that is measurable but also valuable to your organization. We think its all about alignment:

  • What does your organization want to achieve, and why?

  • What is the impact of the outcomes and why does it matter?

  • What are the metrics of measuring success?

  • What is the investment, and the return?

  • Is your leadership fully aligned and committed to the journey?

Identify some problem statements that apply to your business, including the comparative measures and what they mean to you:

- Our RTO target is X% and our actual rate is Y%.
- We know we're losing our talent to A, B, and C corporations.
- Of all the offers we extend, we have an acceptance rate of DD%.
- Our employee turnover rate is E% higher than the industry average.
- Our employee listening scores have declined by F% over the past 3 years.
- We're in the 4th quartile in the Best Place to Work index.
- Great Places to Work perform G% better than those that are not.
- It costs us H% of annual salary to replace each leaver.

It's when we frame these work experience transformation initiatives in such a way that we can create measurement metrics to support our investment proposals, and track our progress against them over time.

Work experience transformation isn't a one hat fits all, as every firm is different, different cultures, dynamics and goals - the best plans are those that are highly tailored yet based on the foundations of industry insights and data.

We hope you enjoy these insights and observations, let us know your own thoughts.

Thanks to all those that joined us in New York, including:

Another great conference, thanks to WORKTECH, Philip Ross, Isabel Dewhurst-Marks, and Samantha Cullen.

Thanks to all those that attended. I look forward to seeing you at the next one, wherever that may be!

WORKTECH Academy - How we'll work tomorrow

WTA is a global network of workplace and work experience professionals focused on #People #Place #Culture #Innovation #Design and #Technology. It's a place for insights, thought leadership, and community. If you've attended a WORKTECH event, you are already a member. However, there are additional ways to get involved at Community, Corporate, and Global Partner Levels,

Come Join the Conversation!


Simon Elliot is Managing Partner and co-founder of 4xi Global Consulting & Solutions and is focused on a people-first approach to enable optimum Human Experiences for people away from home: at work, in education, at rest, or at leisure.

Simon believes that Experience Matters! applies in many different ways and is the fundamental foundation of a successful business, no matter the business.

Simon is a global citizen, having lived, worked, and traveled to over 45 countries and six continents, and believes in the power of human potential. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a Member of the Institute of Leadership & Management, and the North America Chair of the WORKTECH Academy. Simon lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side, impacting the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.

We believe in a people-first, experience-led philosophy. Whether client, employee, or guest – their experience is the fundamental foundation of success.

We work with corporations, service providers, and innovators:

  • Strategic Advisory & Special Projects (SPx)

  • Headquarters Fractional Support On-Demand

  • Evolving Experiences© - Employee (EX) & Customer Experience (CX)

  • Design4Life©: Environmental, Physical, and Experiential Design

  • Global Amenities Strategy, Design & Operations

  • TRUE NORTH©: Strategic Partnership & Growth

  • Explorers Innovation Directory: Gateway to Innovation

  • Sustainability Simplified©: Supply Chain & Innovation

  • Market Research Reports & Benchmarking


4xi is proud to be Chair of WORKTECH Academy for North America and a member of its Leadership Advisory Board. 4xi is a Global Ambassador for WORKTECH Academy.

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