State-owned Bank of Baroda (BoB) may consider adopting a model in the next few years where it will deploy 50 per cent of its employees at the branches and the balance would work from home, its Managing Director and CEO Sanjiv Chadha said. "I think it is quite possible that over the next 4-5 years, BoB is looking at having a workforce, only 50 per cent of which may be fully full-time employed at branches and the balance would be working from home," Chadha said at an HR conclave organised by the Indian Banks' Association (IBA).
Currently, 80 per cent of the bank's staff is deployed at the branches. In July, State Bank of India's then chairman Rajnish Kumar said the lender would institute 'work-from-anywhere (WFA)' at the bank. The bank expects to save Rs 1,000 crore from it.
Chadha further said that currently, not all customers are coming to the bank branches. "They may want to be served where they are and digital banking is becoming more and more routine. Therefore, I would believe that the imperative of keeping 80 per cent of the staff at the front office is going to change," he said.
The bank will probably divide the staff into three categories — people who need to work in the branches, people who are in the back office and can work remotely, and people who would be working in a hybrid manner, he said. "I think what we need to possibly do in the next few months or years is to look at work and processes very very carefully and see how we serve the customer best, where the customer wants to be served and also where do the staff wants to work," Chadha said.
Speaking at the event, Union Bank of India Managing Director and CEO Rajkiran Rai G said that despite digitisation, the human-centric business model of banks where there is a personal touch and every customer goes to a branch, will not go away easily. "The high-touch model is not going to go away. The physical branches are going to be there but then we will leverage more and more technology," he said.
Rai said that currently, there may be 20-30 per cent of customers at the high-end who are fully digital, and it may take another 5-10 years for majority of customers to shift to fully digital. BoB's Chadha said assisted digital model is going to be an important part.
"It is going to be digital but there will be some kind of assistance which would be required from the staff member or business correspondent," he said. Canara Bank Managing Director and CEO L V Prabhakar said being a public sector bank and having many branches in rural areas, the bank cannot go 100 per cent digital.
"I have to balance carefully so that I can address the people who cannot do digital banking and the people who can do digital banking," he said. Prabhakar said his bank has changed its policies to get future-ready.
"If something like COVID-19 happens in the future, we do not want to get adjusted with the situation like reaction rather we want to be proactive," he said. The bank has modified all its human resource (HR) policies and has a business connectivity plan with emphasis on work from home, Prabhakar said.
IDBI Bank Managing Director and CEO Rakesh Sharma said the differentiated working hour model has worked well in the bank's certain departments, including back office. "Now, we are thinking why don't we adopt these things in future also because it will improve productivity and also reduce cost to some extent," he said.
For the front office staff, the bank is working on various digital developments which will help it in giving some relief to the employees.