With Amex Flex, financial sector warms to hybrid work
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

While leaders at many big banks and financial companies have been staunch about their desire to return to the office, American Express is bucking the trend by offering their more than 63,000 employees a three-tiered hybrid work option that hinges on worker choice.

Dubbed Amex Flex, the new work model will offer hybrid, onsite, and fully virtual work options to employees based on job role and employee preference. But the biggest departure from similar flexible work arrangements designated by major employers like Amazon is Amex’s “Work From Anywhere Component,” which grants employees four full calendar weeks of time to log onto the job from “a location other than their primary” residence or office.

This component could come in the form of a month-long working road trip, for instance, or simply allowing employees to better plan for longer holiday travel. The most unique characteristic of this specific perk is that it applies broadly to workers regardless of the Amex Flex designation they adopt going forward.

Image Source: American Express

While Amex is all about providing flexibility, office work is still a huge component of the company’s long-term strategy. In a survey conducted by company leadership in early 2021, nearly 80 percent of employees claimed they want to come back to the office “at least some of the time.”

This aligns with sentiments felt elsewhere in the financial space, where the realities of the business (high-value and high-security data, a wealth of compliance restrictions) limit the ability for workers in the space to be truly mobile. This is reflected in decisions by leadership at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, who have been defiantly vocal about their antipathy toward “work from home” in the financial sector. While these banks see value in the strict office-based work that was the norm pre-pandemic, companies like Amex view a full-on return to the office as a reversal of fortunes.

“Our traditional way of working has changed. The office is no longer the only place where most colleagues can effectively get work done, as we’ve proven throughout the last 18 months. We want to build on the progress we’ve made working virtually, including how we’ve become more efficient and agile, gained greater flexibility to manage our professional and personal lives, and leveled the playing field for colleagues across band levels and locations,” said American Express chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri in a blog post to employees.

Squeri isn’t the only financial leader who agrees that the old way of work needs to stay in the past, however.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser has similarly signaled that listening to workers and measuring results has changed her tune on the need for full-time office work going forward. While the company still expects workers to be in the office “at least two days a week” going forward, their schedules are almost completely flexible beyond that.

“The number of dads that came up and said, ‘It’s so neat because I can work from home and therefore I can get to the kid’s school play […] It’s refreshing because you get rid of some old anachronistic cultures or ways of doing things and you unleash this energy,” Fraser told Bloomberg, adding that output from employees has remained solid throughout the pandemic.

Successful (and secure) remote work hinges on network performance

While work from anywhere can give employees a work-life balance that can pay off in their overall productivity and output, ensuring these arrangements hinges on many factors—specifically, the ability for teams to effectively and securely connect to the workflows and data they need to do the job.

In finance, ensuring these connections can be especially fraught, as networks must sprawl global connections while meeting strict (and often varied) compliance regulations, all while doing their due diligence in protecting customer assets and data. While this tethers many roles (if not data) to physical office locations, there are many others that can continue to work effectively from virtually anywhere.

For those roles, it falls on IT to gain visibility into the specific mobile workstations employees use to get the job done to ensure that any performance roadblocks that may hinder productivity (or even a compliance or customer issue) can be quickly identified and addressed. This includes understanding both the last-mile connections that support access to the larger enterprise network, as well as understanding the outside-in visibility of network traffic into cloud environments supporting critical remote workflows. With this visibility in hand, IT can truly understand app and network performance from the end-user perspective, regardless of where that user is working.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

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