A cultural shift at ATB Financial creates new language

The shift to Workplace 2.0 at ATB Financial began with a conversation around culture and a vision board exercise with executives.  Magazines and artwork were used to create pictures to represent their vision of the office in 2020.  From this the ATB Workplace 2.0 team picked out themes and began facilitating conversations with others in the organization. They developed working teams made up of employees in different areas to meet and discuss a new office environment. The outcome of these conversations was a list of concerns, hopes and beliefs that employees brought forward.  How could they ever meet these differing and often opposing needs?

Positive workplace culture and flexibility lie hand in hand.

A visioning exercise with senior executives at ATB Financial has lead to a cultural shift and Workplace 2.0.

ATB partnered with Better Workplaces and Workshift – Calgary Economic Development to see how they could build a flexible workplace.  ATB employees now work from home, work remotely in branch’s boardroom space or ‘Now” spaces, fit their 40 hour work week into slices they require and rely on ‘benching’ spaces to collaborate with colleagues.   All employees were issued a laptop, had the option of keeping their office at work or having an office at home or using ATB buildings in different throughout the city for meeting clients or collaborating.

This significant shift in culture and work environment has created a new language within ATB.  When the team noticed that there was negative water-cooler talk around who was not in the office or who was working on weekends they brought awareness to the issue with the term ‘sludging’.  An awareness campaign developed at reducing ‘sludging’ was undertaken.  ‘Benching’ was another new word developed to signify the most popular new office arrangement of a long empty bench top table with chairs all around.  Employees loved this new work area and gathered around with their laptops and other colleagues to collaborate and hold meetings.

After a year or so, the U of C came into the picture to undertake a study to assess the outcome of the new office initiative.  They worked with managers who assessed the performance of their teams before and after.  They found an increase in productivity along with an increase in employee engagement, job satisfaction, and work-life balance.  Other outcomes from Workplace 2.

  •  Retention has increased
  •  Real Estate (office) costs have decreased by 51%
  •  Recruiting has become easier
  •  Commuting time was reduced substantially
  •  On-going Changes in compensation to reflect new working reality

The Workplace 2.0 initiative was successful due to the support of the ATB president and other top executives.  Their goal is to continue to be fluid and flexible to meet their employee needs into the future.

Thanks to Michelle Phaneuf for this guest post.

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