Using neuroscience to help HSBC modernise its way of working

See how we helped global bank HSBC make a major transition to activity-based working, giving employees a choice of settings to do their work.

With some workplace habits ingrained over decades, moving to activity-based working (ABW) is not for the faint-hearted. Having a robust plan in place can be the difference between success and failure. So when the global bank HSBC set out to introduce its ABW-based programme OpenWork to its new offices in Parramatta and Barangaroo, in Sydney, we helped them execute a milestone in the bank's Australian growth strategy.

Desk-sharing ratios increased to accommodate a 20 percent increase in headcount growth within the first year;

  • Physical printers were reduced by 67 percent, resulting in cost savings in IT
  • A 78 percent reduction in paper usage and therefore in storage costs
  • On average, 23 percent of staff are mobile, using breakout spaces and accessing Wi-Fi as a source of connection.

How we went about it

To embed, and more importantly, sustain new ways of working, we deployed our 'Three C's of Change' framework, a structured change management programme that we devised in house, and which draws in neuroscience to transform behaviours. 

The programme was rolled out two years before a single HSBC staff member was moved into their new offices. In those two yours we engaged with HSBC’s business lines to understand how they operated as well as their requirements and limitations to moving to ABW. We factored this into an overarching change plan, customising it to different departments and their ability to adopt and absorb the change. An important step towards progress was challenging legacy processes and introducing new ones. In one instance we were able to reduce the storage requirements of one department from a large room to a three-drawer filing cabinet.

The change program was an operational success.

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