Covid-19 is transforming the banking industry in ways that seemed unlikely in a pre-pandemic world. Even state-owned lenders are following in the footsteps of private-sector peers to consider a work-from-home (WFH) policy for specific functions, to allow employees the flexibility to work from remote locations.
Large public sector banks such as State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of Baroda (BoB) are working towards this, with BoB looking for a consultant to design such a policy. “Bank of Baroda wants to leverage covid-19 disruption to transform the bank. This transformation will be focused on driving operational efficiencies, addressing changing profiles and behaviour of our customers and targeting new opportunities,” it said on 28 August.
BoB aims to appoint a consultant to develop the WFH policy, including standard operating procedures (SOPs), selection process of WFH staff, technological feasibility.
Many sectors were forced to adopt remote working models during covid, but not many in the banking sector were able to exercise the option, mostly due to security risks around financial data. Even after WFH policies are in place for banks, it will be more beneficial for non-customer-facing roles.
Banks have to redeploy existing staff from branches once they levy full-fledged WFH models, with footfall dropping in branches, said Veinu Nehru Dutta, director, financial services, ABC Consultants. “However, the change will take more time in small towns where more people use branches compared to Tier-1 cities,” said Dutta.
SBI is upgrading its existing policy to incorporate a remote working model. “Productivity tools, technology are in place to perform administrative work remotely. Work from anywhere reduces commute time that can be utilized for providing better services,” Rajnish Kumar, chairman, SBI, wrote in the FY20 annual report. The facility has already been rolled out across 19 foreign offices and domestic operations will soon be covered.
Bank of Maharashtra is also trying to implement a WFH policy. Its chief executive A.S. Rajeev told Mint last month that the bank is in the process of initiating a working mode where most employees will be allowed to work from home.
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