An employee working from home connects via video conferencing amid the Covid-19 pandemic in New Delhi in April 2020. Photo: NurPhoto

While the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced many companies to allow their employees to work from home to keep their businesses running, the country’s largest bank is now looking at it as a permanent option. In fact the state-owned lender State Bank of India is taking it a step further by introducing a “work-from-anywhere” policy for its employees.

The bank, which employs 250,000 people, has already rolled out this policy across its 19 foreign offices and will soon be implementing it in India. The bank hopes to drive down its operational costs and improve staff productivity.

With this announcement, State Bank of India has expressed its willingness to accept remote working as a long-term measure. Chairman Rajnish Kumar said, “With global acceptability of work-from-home arrangements, the bank is in process of upgrading its existing work from home policy to work-from-anywhere. Productivity tools and technology are already in place to perform administrative work remotely.”

The bank has also identified business continuity hub branches that will physically serve customers in case of emergency and support essential back-end services.

State Bank of India is also planning to further scale up its digital banking platform Yono, and has set a target of doubling user registrations in the next six months. It is also planning end-to-end home loans, pre-approved car loans and personal gold loans through its digital platform.

Earlier, Aditya Puri, the managing director of HDFC Bank, had said that about a third of the bank’s employees were working from home and that the practice would likely continue even after the pandemic has died down because it cuts costs.

Axis Bank is also keen to adopt work-from-home as an integral part of its work culture. The bank’s executive director, Rajesh Dahiya, has said that adapting to work-from-home or work-from-anywhere will help attract varied talent pools, break geographical boundaries and give employees more choices.

Many software companies have already made elaborate plans to allow employees to work from home even after the lockdown. India’s largest software exporter, Tata Consultancy Services, has said that by 2025, only one-fourth of its total workforce will be required to come to the office. The company employs nearly 450,000 people and is also the largest private sector employer.

The second-largest software company, Infosys, has said that 33% of its staff – around 80,000 of its 242,371 employees globally – will permanently work from home. The company, however, did not provide any timeline for this transition.