June 15, 2024

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How Westwood Holdings uses workplace design and video conferencing

  • While many Americans work from home during this time, technology is the central touchpoint keeping employees connected and productive. 
  • Wealth management firm Westwood Holdings fully migrated to a cloud service in 2016, and last year to a digital conferencing service for businesses.
  • Westwood’s senior vice president and head of human capital, Beth Obear, and COO Fabian Gomez told us how their new systems have helped bring teams together and fostered an inclusive office culture. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The past few weeks have shown that team collaboration is all the more important once an entire company is working from home. And technology is the glue keeping employees on the same page — whether they are cities, states, or countries apart. 

Most employees at asset and wealth management firm Westwood Holdings have been working from home for the past few weeks. The firm has 160 employees with multiple offices in the US and Canada and works with international clients. So, collaborative technology like cloud services and digital conferencing is essential to maintain connected and productive teams.

However, these methods aren’t new to the company. Westwood Holdings fully migrated to a cloud service in 2016 and last year began using a collaboration app that helps teams stay organized and have chat, phone, or video conversations. 

Business Insider spoke with Westwood’s senior vice president and head of human capital, Beth Obear, and chief operating officer, Fabian Gomez. They told us how their new systems have helped bring teams together and fostered an inclusive office culture. 

Workplace design and video conferencing

All Hands Common Area

Westwood redesigned its Dallas headquarters in 2015 to incorporate a central “all hands” space that can host social gatherings, large group meetings, or client events.

Courtesy of Westwood Holdings

Most conference rooms in all four of Westwood’s offices are enabled with video conferencing, which integrates with the company email account to schedule meetings. “We’ve become very accustomed to working remotely via video when necessary, as well as instant messaging and file sharing,” Gomez said.

These apps and services have also allowed the company to be more flexible with employees who need to work remotely. When one of the firm’s portfolio managers moved to Oregon, he was able to keep his job and work remotely, checking in with his team through daily and weekly video calls.  

Video conferencing is more cost-effective too — employees can connect without flying to other offices or countries. “We have salespeople all over the country and they’re able to get in touch with their sales manager, they have weekly meetings, all using the technology we have,” Obear said. 

Recognition and inclusion

Effective collaboration comes with recognizing employee accomplishments and fostering an inclusive environment. “Using these tools enables us to reach a wide variety of employees in a number of different offices,” Obear said, “and we don’t all have to be in one place for all of us to be included.”

Westwood’s walls display employee achievements to further encourage collaboration and inclusion. The college wall showcases employees’ alma maters and the tenure wall shows each employee who has been with the company for three years or more — some have been there for nearly 30 years.  

The firm’s wall also celebrates individual employees every quarter. The “Featured Employee” shares their biggest achievements, philosophy, and what they appreciate about working at the company. The “Social Media Superstar” is an employee with exceptional social media engagement and wins a technology item of their choice. 

Personal connection

The firm is also translating its in-house collaboration to benefit its clients and is launching a new client interface that will provide alerts, calendar integrations, and chat and video conferencing with their advisors. 

Obear said the key to using collaboration in the office is intersecting the personal with technology, which video conferencing does best, especially when her department uses it to interview job candidates.

“You have a lot more information than you would simply over the phone,” she said.

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