This Kolkata-based admin head of a bank insists that neither he nor his organisation should be named, but that does not matter because his story today — in the time of COVID-19 — is likely to be more or less the same as any employee of any bank across the country.
The bank officer’s day begins at 6.30 a.m., when he scans through the pandemic-related news and forwards on his phone. The news emanating from Kolkata is not good these days: the number of people being detected with the virus is only increasing, and sometimes they include people known to him.
Picks up colleagues
He then sets out of home at 8 a.m. He lives in Garia and his office is in Ballygunge, a distance of about 10 km. On the way, he picks up three colleagues, including a cashier. A few other officers with personal cars do the same: pick up colleagues who relied on public transport.
“Not every employee has a personal vehicle. Also, when we pick up people, we ensure most of the staff reaches on time. We open the branch between 9 and 9.30 a.m. By then the premises is sanitised by the housekeeping staff. Let me mention here that we have reassigned many security and housekeeping staff to branches closest to their homes,” the officer said.
“While making the daily roaster, I make sure that only about 50% of the staff comes to work, so that we can keep alternate workstations vacant. When customers come in, we make sure we don’t appear disrespectful to them while maintaining social distancing. These days they queue up outside the bank and only one person walks in at a time, after he has rubbed sanitiser on his hands. We are soon likely to get a temperature gun too,” he said.
As an outing
“Many of our customers are elderly people who are still not familiar with Internet banking. Some of the customers, we can sense, also treat visits to the bank as an outing — they come for minor transactions that can easily be done from home. Since footfalls are comparatively less, our employees also get to spend a lot of time with elderly customers on phone, teaching them or guiding them to make online transactions. This way, they are getting to learn netbanking,” he said.
When asked if the worry about contracting the virus constantly nags him, he said: “Far from being anxious, we are highly motivated. In my 30 years as a banker, I have never seen my colleagues this motivated. Each evening, when I get home, my wife leaves the door open and I walk straight into the bathroom and take a shower. When I emerge from the bathroom, my daughter has two standard questions for me: Was there traffic on the roads, and whether I was stopped by the police. I repeat the same answer every day: that our job comes under essential services and our role is no less significant than that of doctors or policemen.”