Transferring more than 9,000 people has been a logistical challenge, but it works so well that Toronto-Dominion may continue to offer it as an option in the future, a sign that the pandemic could have long-term ramifications for everything from work to commercial real estate. .
“Just 30 days ago, we couldn’t even imagine our contact center agents working from home,” said Greg Smith, executive vice president who oversees centers in North America. “And in 30 days, more than 9,000 agents will work from home.”
The agents work 24/7 to serve Canada’s banking, wealth and insurance services to North America’s sixth-largest bank in assets, as well as its American lender TD Bank, whose branch network is extends from Maine to Florida.
The initiative is similar to that of other companies, including American Express Co., Capital One Financial Corp. and Synchrony Financial, who are rushing to equip customer service representatives to work from home in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 78,000 people worldwide and shut down a range of businesses.
Other Canadian banks are also stepping up their efforts to send call center staff home. Bank of Montreal, for example, allows more than half of its call center staff to move and has significantly reduced the number of on-site employees in each remaining location by sending them to other sites, including branches closed to help maintain social distancing.
At Royal Bank of Canada, 85% of call center and personal and commercial banking operations workers are already working from home, and the Bank of Toronto aims to reach 95% early next week.
Toronto-Dominion is able to move approximately 350 employees to Canada and 150 to the United States every day, and by the end of April, almost all of its 9,500 call center employees will work from home, except those with less than three months of experience.
“The whole company working together really made it happen: logistics, risk, technology, deployment,” said Smith of Toronto-Dominion. “We have people who work every night, all night, every day of the week to get there. “
The effort was not without challenges, including the deployment of all laptops and monitors – and the risks.
“We know it’s a little bit different from working from home – we can’t control everything you can control in the office, so we’ve had to become familiar with how we mitigate our risks,” said Smith. “It was a big hurdle that we overcame.”
Homework has been embraced by employees, according to Smith. Workers have an additional 10 days to resolve daycare issues and the ability to change schedules and work split shifts.
At the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto-Dominion plans to keep homework as an option for call center staff.
“We don’t know what it’s going to look like when we’re all done and how people are going to feel, but I would like to continue to allow officers to work from home even after the crisis,” said Smith. “And it would only be for flexibility. “