The rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in Turkey has brought back to the banking sector the practice of working from home, something that has become commonplace in most other sectors by now.
While the retail divisions of the banks – the bank branches – which are one of the most important units in the banking sector, continue to serve at full capacity, the corporate, commercial and private banking segments of the lenders have started to operate at 50% capacity in Istanbul.
Half of the personnel in the relevant units in Istanbul, where cases are very high, returned to the remote working system. In branches outside of Istanbul, this rate is around 25%.
While the hybrid working model continued in the general directorates of many banks, new decisions were taken in banks that partly and gradually abandoned this practice as employees started coming to the office during the mild course of the pandemic last year. However, they have returned to the home working system again.
In this period, interest in the digital channels of banks reached its peak again.
Banks, which prioritize the health of their customers and employees, perform many banking transactions safely and quickly through alternative distribution channels without the need to go to a branch.
The second-largest bank in Turkey, private lender Garanti BBVA, announced earlier that as of Monday, Dec. 27, it has switched to the remote working system again for its head office employees.
In the statement, it was mentioned that the service in the branches continues in the same way and that returning to the hybrid working order will be reevaluated by following the current virus data.
At Denizbank, Turkey's fifth-largest lender, nearly 80% of the personnel of the headquarters work remotely.
In an earlier statement made by the country’s third-largest lender, Yapı Kredi, it was stated that even after the pandemic they will continue the "lean working" system, which is a hybrid model where it is possible to work both remotely and from the office.
The statement made by ING Bank, which has been working with a hybrid model since 2015, also noted that this model will be maintained even after the pandemic.
In the statement made to Bloomberg HT, ING said: “With the decrease in the cases, we took a step toward the return of our employees working at headquarters and the Operations Center in Kahramanmaraş as of September 2021, with a hybrid working order and rotation system, and returned to the office at half capacity. However, due to the increase in cases now, we took a step as of January. As of 2022, we interrupted the rotation and enabled our head office employees to switch to working remotely again. Our employees in the branches continue to serve from the branches.”
According to the sources, some of the public banks have also returned to the remote working model by sending some of their head office employees back home as of last week.
Turkey on Saturday registered more than 66,000 new COVID-19 cases amid the fast-spreading omicron variant, data from the Health Ministry showed.
The ministry reported 66,237 new cases, 141 deaths and 34,592 recoveries over the past day. As many as 418,264 COVID-19 tests were done in the last 24 hours. To stem the spread of the infection, the country has administered nearly 136 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it launched an immunization drive in January 2021, according to the latest figures.
In Istanbul, hospitals are facing a surge in the number of people applying for vaccination and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.