Robert Cashman

It’s no secret that many aspects of the working world have changed significantly since 2020. Prior to that, Metro Credit Union operated mainly under a traditional work model, only dabbling in the concept of remote work – the norm at the time for most financial institutions. Then in March 2020, during a time of global uncertainty, one thing was clear: We had to move quickly in order to keep our business running efficiently while continuing to provide excellent service to our members. Thanks to our forward-thinking and hard-working employees and our advanced technology systems, we were able to move our entire back-office workforce to a remote environment in less than two weeks.  

Since then, like most organizations, we’ve learned an extraordinary amount about how to adapt to changing priorities and expectations while embracing collaborative tools such as FaceTime, Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams, juggling work-life balance and mastering how to be most effective at our jobs regardless of our work environment. As the pandemic dwindled and restrictions lifted, we were eager for the opportunity to get back to work in-person and spend time with colleagues – but it was clear that it didn’t make sense to operate the way we had prior to 2020, which is why we rolled out our innovative hybrid work program at the start of this year.  

Under this new model, we offer flexible work schedules for all employees, understanding that some tasks are best done at home while other activities – such as brainstorming sessions and strategic planning meetings – tend to be more productive in-person. But most importantly, we know that providing flexible work options to our employees is critical to their wellbeing and we strive to be an employer that truly embraces the concept of work-life balance.  

With that in mind, we designed our program to include many flexible options. Some of our employees work remotely several days a week with flexible hours that meet their needs, while others take advantage of a new offering at Metro – the four-day work week, a unique option, especially for those within the retail banking sector of the financial services industry. Employees working under this model work 10-hour days at a Metro office with one day off per five-day workweek.  

We are able to offer Metro employees flexible work arrangements with no impact to our hours or availability due to a strategic focus on resource allocation. Last year, we transformed our employment and compensation structure with the introduction of the Universal Program Model, an initiative designed to upskill Metro’s existing employee base, while simultaneously enhancing the member experience.  

Part of the initiative includes hiring and training a team of Universal Service Specialists (USS) – “float” employees designated to assist in various areas of the organization as needed, like covering for vacation and sick leave or taking overflow calls from our call center. Today, the USS Program is a gamechanger for employees and departments who take advantage of the four-day work week – they can enjoy their day off knowing a trained Metro employee is available to assist their members and colleagues.  

If we learned anything from the early days of the pandemic, it’s that we can’t predict the future. We understand that economics can shift, and business priorities can change without much, or any, warning. With that in mind, we’re committed to remaining nimble and responsive so that we can always deliver exceptional service to our members and provide employees with the flexibility they need to be happy and healthy beyond the “four walls” of our physical locations.  

I encourage other business leaders to make the same considerations, recognizing that “traditional” financial services organizations can evolve and maintain efficiency while keeping employees’ best interests in mind. In the meantime, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing creative and flexible options to meet the unique needs of our workforce.     

Robert Cashman is president and CEO of Chelsea-based Metro Credit Union. 

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by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 3 min