In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, India’s largest lender State Bank of India is upgrading its policies for better productivity and efficiency. One of the latest developments is regarding the conversion of ‘Work from Home’ policy to ‘Work from Anywhere’ policy, in order to adjust to the new challenges in the post-COVID era and changing demands of customers. SBI is probably the first public sector lender that officially announced the permanent adoption of remote working measures in the post-COVID era.
“On the business side, the focus of the bank in the days ahead would be on revisiting risk assessment and business procedures in addition to the rapid adoption of digital technology,” SBI said in its annual report. “However, from the Bank’s point of view, the true impact of the COVID pandemic must also consider the behavioral impact on Bank’s customers, and composition of the portfolio,” it added.
Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Chairman SBI said, “For instance, likely job cuts and salary reductions will have a relatively low level of stress on account of the higher proportion of Government/Quasi-Government sector customers.” He added, “With global acceptability of ‘Work from Home’ (WFH) arrangements, the Bank is in the process of upgrading its existing WFH policy to ‘Work From Anywhere’ (WFA). Productivity tools and technology are already in place to perform administrative work remotely.” He said that this policy would help reduce commute time for the Bank’s staff, which can be utilized for providing better services to customers as well as ensuring better work-life balance.
SBI, in its statement, said, “Work from the home facility has already been rolled out across 19 foreign offices and soon domestic operations will also be covered. This is expected to drive down the operational cost for the Bank, besides ensuring better motivation and productivity for staff members.”
As of now, only 21.8 percent of the customers have availed the benefit of moratorium. The bank was able to achieve 98 percent branch operability as well as 91 percent alternate channel operability during the period of lockdown. Nevertheless, an elaborate Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is in place to manage disruptions. Business continuity hub branches have been identified to cater to customers in case of emergency and BCP sites identified to support essential beckoned services, it added.
Aditya Puri, the managing director of HDFC Bank had said earlier that about one-third of the bank’s employees were working from home during the lockdown, and the practice could likely continue even after the pandemic has died down as it saves costs. There are around 2.58 lakh employees working in SBI who would be upgraded to the ‘Work from Anywhere’ policy.
The lender said that changing customer preferences could mean a big opportunity for a bank like SBI, as there is more acceptability to adopt digital channels for banking. SBI plans to further scale up its digital banking platform, You Only Need One (YONO) and is targeting to double its user registrations in the next six months. The bank is looking to strengthen its digital platform services through new product offerings like personal gold loans, pre-approved car loans, and end-to-end home loans.