Remote working in Germany: through the eyes of our branch colleagues
Monday 07 June 2021
One year into the pandemic, colleagues from branches in Germany share their personal experiences working from home. They highlight the challenges faced to adapt to a new normal and how the Bank helped them to stay close to customers with new technology.
In February 2020, we were one of the first companies in Germany to ask our colleagues to work from home to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. One year on, things have changed quite significantly. We ramped up our digitalisation efforts across the Bank. We introduced new processes, learned to work as teams virtually, and, by now, we are all very efficient at that.
“Almost exactly one year ago, we were forced to take a radical step: we moved a large proportion of our employees to a home office set up to protect them from the spread of the COVID-19 infection.
One year later, I see that things have changed for the better during the crisis. As a bank, we are much more digital, faster and always at our customers' side. Working remotely makes it easier to balance professional and private life, even though I still miss the face-to-face interactions with my colleagues.” Michael Diederich, CEO Germany
1 year of home office: maintaining customer contact in Germany remotely
Depending on the situation, HVB adjusts the presence of employees in branches on a risk basis. In recent months, this has mainly been managed by alternating openings: branches were open for two weeks and closed for one week. A branch in the surrounding area then took over. The Bank's 61 flagships and large city branches remained open, with only a part of the team present at any one time in the weekly rotation.
To continue business operations, technical equipment was quickly developed and new tools for remote customer consulting and support were launched so that we could remain close to customers; be that by phone, video, on-line from home, via the mobile banking App or physically at the branch.
Here’s what 3 colleagues from the Private Clients Bank have to say about their experiences
Franziska Werdich, PVK Branch Ulm
“By working from my home office, I can be much more flexible with my appointments. Video consulting in particular is very popular with customers. As a result, contact is quicker and more intensive, especially with customers who live further away or who are busy at work. Deals usually take longer however as contracts can usually only be signed during attendance weeks. I miss the personal face-to-face contact with customers. This is and remains an important part of our work. After all, you can only create trust with someone when you know them better.”
Jasmin Feist, PBK Branch Gersthofen
“The use of digital processes has increased significantly due to remote working. Even when the branch is open, digital processes such as video consulting are also increasingly used. Inevitably, this has also significantly increased paperless work, including through the media provided such as eForms. By using Go-To-Meeting, I can make a video appointment with customers at any time. As a result, our branch not only has video consultations during home office weeks, but also during open weeks as well.
But with all the advantages that digital working brings, there are also disadvantages. I find that customers are sometimes so digitally overloaded that they want to go back to face-to-face appointments. Video consulting is more factual, while face-to-face consulting is more personal. Overall, though, I think it's great that the Bank has been able to get on-line customer events up and running so quickly. This made it easier for us advisors during the transition from branch to digital. I've received mostly positive feedback from customers.”
Giuseppe Amato, PVK Branch Mannheim
“One of the most significant innovations was the ability to offer customers WebEx on-line consulting – even if we first had to encourage some customers to do so and support them in dialing in and using it. I see the future viability of the Bank as a great opportunity, because in my opinion the topic of remote consulting will become more and more important and accepted in all areas of society over the coming years. In the future, it will be ‘normal’ for customers to receive remote advice from their bank advisor, kitchen expert, or even doctor.
If we approach customers early enough with remote consulting as a matter of course and with well-run programmes, we will have a good head start on the other banks’ branches. On the whole, I think we are already very well positioned and hope for further improvements in the future!”