Remote working: How banks can get the best out of it

  • Posted on April 7, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Remote working- How banks can get the best out of it

We’re in the middle of a major health crisis which is having a massive impact on the global economy. Our main responsibility is to ensure our families and colleagues stay safe and healthy and that everyone weathers the storm.  

Obviously, banks have a major role to play.  They have an opportunity to build their reputation and strengthen their customer relationships over the coming months. I’d like to focus on a number of areas where banks can improve the way they operate over the coming months. I’d also like to end each blog with a banking ‘good news’ story.  In this first blog, let’s look at remote working.

Getting started 
Since I joined Avanade over two years ago, I’ve completely reversed my working week from one day at home and four in the office to four days at home and one in the office. Obviously, for me, moving to five days at home wasn’t a major stretch in the current situation.  Avanade is a pretty virtual company, but it does mean when we meet up physically, we appreciate the opportunity. Because we’re partly owned by Microsoft, we’ve been working on Teams for the last 18 months. First, as beta testers and then in full deployment mode as we stopped using Skype.

For regulatory and compliance reasons, most bank staff have been office-based. However, many are now either working in a new location or working at home and it does take time to adjust. I want to provide some hints and tips that will help you become productive quickly:
  • Personal well-being: Set up a daily routine, because maintaining your routine is important for your productivity (e.g. start 8.30, coffee 10.30, lunch 12.30).  If you’re new to working at home, it may also be a new experience for your family members. It’s always a good practice to discuss it with them and let them know when you are working, especially if you’re in a shared space. Working from home can lead to increased screen time - and less time away from your desk - so make sure you have breaks. Don’t let work intrude on your home life. Try and finish at the same time, whenever possible. When you’re offline, try to stay offline.
  • Your environment: Find a quiet corner, so you can concentrate. Background noise presents a challenge so go for a headset with background noise-cancelling capability. You’ll probably need to go on video, so wear something appropriate!
  • Your set-up: I’m assuming you’re on Teams or Skype, but I think the same principles apply. Get to know the functionality (mute button, turning on video, chat window, setting up folders etc). Try a test run and work out how you’re going to share content on a call (sharing apps rather than your desktop is best). Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, look at other options (e.g. whiteboards, recording options, screen sharing). If you’re using Teams, you can use the dedicated app on your mobile as well. Watch out for other family members streaming films or playing online games – that may affect your bandwidth. Diplomacy and tact are vital household skills!
  • Role model: you might want to have a remote working expert for each business division to help colleagues get the best from their current situation. As a leader, you could schedule regular check-ins with your team to see how everyone is getting on. Set up a ‘virtual coffee’ session for 15 minutes. You may want to set up mentoring for your team. Call out success where you see it. Encourage your team to be proactive and think of ways of doing things differently.

If you want to set up remote working quickly for your organization, Avanade put together a Rapid Resource Guide. It includes setting up teams, working on documents together and working across business boundaries – with best practice tips for each one. If you’re thinking more broadly about the workplace, we’ve also developed an approach for banks. For broader advice, we’ve pulled together all our advice around remote working for employees, business and IT leaders

Now for a ‘good news’ story…

There are opportunities to show appreciation for employees in a difficult situation. Many of the large US and European banks are giving frontline employees a bonus and/or extra holiday.  For example, JPMorgan Chase is to give front-line employees staffing its call centres and branches a $1,000 bonus for keeping the business running during the pandemic. The one-off bonus will be given to staff who make less than $60,000 per year. Intesa Sanpaolo is also rewarding staff with six extra days paid holiday, amounting to a contribution worth approximately €25 million.

There are many uncertain days ahead, but banks have the opportunity to be a calm and stabilizing force across global markets. They can act in such a way that their reputation at the end of this crisis is better than it was at the start. 

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