Pods are in: How to redesign your bank branch

Picture the traditional bank branch: You walk in, pass through a waiting room, see a few offices, and then reach the teller line with a row of employees behind bullet-proof glass. This is a similar design to one you'll find in banks and credit unions across the country, regardless of size, scope and customers. 

However, the traditional design of the bank branch is finally changing. Out is the impersonal row of tellers and in are the more consumer-friendly "pods." These are individual work stations spread throughout the branch where a person can come in, walk up to their teller and complete their transaction.

"Pods signal the new wave of branch design."

This approach was one taken by Georgia-based Augusta Metro Federal Credit Union. In an interview with The Financial Brand, vice president Butch Holley explained several of the new design elements in one of the credit union's branches. For example, they added an open self-service cafe and did away with the teller - every employee has a variety of roles now.

AMFCU has incorporated pods into its design. Tellers work from individual stations to inject a bit of personality into the business. This change has come about thanks to new trends and technology. Money can be stored in different ways, including using cash recyclers, and many cash transactions can be completed at ATMs.

"We got rid of tellers and the whole idea of getting in line," Holley told The Financial Brand. "The drawer with money is gone, which is a whole new way to address security."

Style branches for efficiency and comfort
If you are considering a branch redesign, make sure you first address security. Removing the "teller wall" can be an issue, assuming you don't have a safe way to manage cash transactions. 

You also want to create a space with efficiency and comfort in mind, both for your employees and your customers. According to the design firm Nova Retail Group, make sure you have enough employees to keep things from getting backed up. So, one teller staffs the pod, another would handle the drive-through and third can even act as a greeter and a guide.

Comfort can also be an issue. Try using privacy dividers or smart design to keep customers away from the pods when they are not being helped. Consider adding stools as well, so each person has the option to sit while they are being served.

Pod design is a growing trend in the banking industry. However, make sure you are seamlessly implementing these changes in order to keep customers and employees happy.