Dubai: Standard Chartered Bank will allow its UAE workforce to operate remotely after getting the necessary approvals from line managers. The UK bank employs nearly 1,700 staff at its UAE operations, managed through six branches.
According to Pavneet Bajwa, Head of Human Resources at the bank, a system has been in place for a while to allow staff to work from home.
“We take pride in the fact that we like to provide convenience to our staff,” she added. “Some of our staff have school going children and are required to stay at home to supervise them. At the bank we have advanced tech in place whereby staff can access our systems and work. It is the need of the hour and we are happy provide this facility to our staff.”
The senior executive confirmed employees working from home will receive full pay. “There will be no changes to staff remuneration. We are a liberal institution; if you see our maternity package as well we offer our staff 140 days leave with full pay.”
Bajwa detailed the bank’s policies for employees since the outbreak of coronavirus. “We have not particularly changed policies to address this topic as we do have robust policies around flexible working which includes flexi-hours, working from home and part-time work.
“Flexible working culture is well embedded – for example in my HR team each person practices flexible working. We continue to promote this through this difficult period and we have seen business heads activating this policy as they deem fit.
“We have a pandemic working group which has ensured that in the last few weeks we are in a prepared state by testing our VPN (virtual private network) and BCP (business continuity plan) sites to ensure these can take the load if we need to implement. We are asking colleagues to be mindful when travelling and follow local guidance.
“We have also set up a 24-hour hotline for our employees for questions, queries, support.”
Have the take up rates been high? “Yes definitely, given nursery and school closures. We are seeing an increase in uptake and this is the whole point of these policies – to be supportive to colleagues.”
According to Bajwa: “I do not see any effect on productivity, in fact the productivity increases as your engagement, efficiency and morale increases with this support provided by the bank. It supports physical and mental wellbeing and less work-related stress.”