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How Banks Can Ensure a Safe Return to Office Working

Leaders should be prepared to support long-term remote working in case of a second spike in virus cases, Deloitte says

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How Banks Can Ensure a Safe Return to Office Working

Returning to normal office and branch operations will take “an extended period of time”, according to a report by Deloitte.

States including Texas, Georgia and Nevada have begun relaxing their stay-at-home rules in recent weeks.

However, the consulting giant said many corporate leaders were “still in the early stages of developing return-to-workplace strategies, and planning maturity levels vary”.

“When assessing the range of approaches available, both roles and locations in terms of feasibility of remote work and the risk to public health should be considered, and any return-to-work analysis should consider the rapid acceleration of tech-enabled remote work,” Deloitte said.

Organizations should consider introducing a range of measures to ensure the safety of staff and customers, the Deloitte’s report added, including providing personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

The report also recommended assigning a “dedicated quarantine room” to keep individuals who start displaying symptoms away from other people.

Companies should also adjust floor space where possible to allow for social distancing to continue.

Although staff will be returning to work, Deloitte emphasized that it was still crucial for companies to continue to invest in remote working facilities as not all workers will be able to come back straight away.

“In the longer term, many companies are evaluating permanent remote work for some of their workforce,” the report said. “Based on conversations with industry leaders, some companies may consider remote working for 30-35% of their workforce on a more permanent basis.”

It was also important to be prepared for lockdown measures to be reintroduced if there was a second spike in cases of the virus, Deloitte warned.

“Even as firms re-enter, leaders should prepare for future scenarios, such as another potential stay-at-home order in case the pandemic spread resurfaces or increases,” the consultancy said. “Firms may even have to make it an iterative process and show agility and flexibility to learn and adapt based on the experience in the initial weeks of re-entry.”

The American Bankers Association (ABA) polled its members between April 27 and May 8 to ascertain what measures they were putting in place ahead of staff returning to offices and branches.

Three quarters (74%) said they were providing hand sanitizer for office staff, with 79% providing this for branch-based staff. A similar proportion said they were increasing workplace cleaning materials – 76% for branch staff and 73% for office staff.

Masks were being provided to branch staff by two thirds (66%) of banks, with 64% also providing gloves. For office staff, these figures were slightly lower at 60% and 42%.

Sneeze guards were being provided to branches by 62% of banks, the ABA’s research showed, while 59% said they would place markers or barriers in branches to help maintain social distancing.

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