Transitioning Field Offices to Offices of the Future

Interview with Kathy Kacher

Q: What problem were you working to solve for the client?  What was the burning platform?

A major insurer was proceeding with a multi-year plan to evolve its financial centres into more progressive workspaces.  They had the real estate and IT resources lined up; however, they were cognizant that the differently configured workspaces would represent a significant change for the leadership in the centres as well as the advisers and support staff. Given they didn’t have a plan or dedicated resources to prepare or transition the people, FlexPaths’ expertise was needed.

Q: It sounds like the company provided support in acclimating to the new space and providing the technology.  Why was your work different/needed?

A critical element of success is considering that the RE change impacts how every individual gets his/her work done, interacts with colleagues, and faces off with clients.  And, based upon tenure and generation, that change can be somewhat easy or very difficult.  Putting a change management approach in place, in parallel with space and infrastructure (e.g., technology) changes, is essential to ensure that no ground is lost in office/advisor performance and the opportunity to put forth an optimal experience. 

Q: Tell me more. What services did you provide?

Essentially, it is a change management plan – helping the home office and field leadership have a roadmap and key activities in preparing for, managing and sustaining the change.  For example, in helping to prepare for the change, determine the resistance/readiness across the Centre.  Frame up the business case and communication to ensure buy-on.  Identify key activities to help individuals navigate the new space, keep them updated on what to do when, provide them with needed training.

Q: What was the biggest ‘aha’ you had during this project?

The company was doing a great job cascading information about the RE change to the financial centre leaders and employees. What we learned during our discovery was that people weren't reading the information, they were not participating in the social media tools that their head office had set up to inform and engage. From our discovery, we learned that the best way to share information was from the advisor's manager. With this information, we developed manager resources that included FAQs, timeline for touch points, expectations, onsite events that created opportunities for discussion and learning, and a point of contact if they needed support. The outcome was that the grapevine settled down and the people who were in the transition began to move from contemplating the move to taking action and getting ready to make the move.

Q: How do you know the work paid off?

During the first week at the new financial centre we had key stakeholders present to capture the reaction to the new environment by the advisors, managers and administration. The feedback from them included the following comments: "Well now I feel like a professional working in an environment like this!"  and " Welcome to the future". Advisors who were there on the first day were actually escorting advisors who came in on day two – walking through their financial centre with a great deal of pride. Several weeks after the move the group is still doing well and adapting to the new technology, new amenities and the open space with enthusiasm and minimal disruption during the settling in period.

Meet Kathy Kacher