DBS Bank: Staying ahead of the curve

EXCLUSIVE: Whether through the adoption of technology, or the implementation of innovative employee engagement initiatives, DBS Bank is ready to embrace any changes in the workforce , including remote working.
By: | April 24, 2020

In the world of business, being able to stay ahead of the curve can mean the difference between success and failure. While many companies may be struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, DBS Bank has, since early February, been judiciously deploying a mix of split site and work-from-home (WFH) arrangements to ensure minimal disruption to business.

Today, supported by DBS’ digital and telecommuting capabilities, entire departments such as audit, research, HR, marketing and customer-facing teams are able to work seamlessly from home, said Jimmy Ng, group chief information officer, DBS.

Speaking exclusively to HRM Asia, Ng explained, “This was made possible by DBS’ multi-year strategy to prepare our infrastructure to embrace Mobility First long before the COVID-19 situation began unfolding, giving us the flexibility to scale up spilt operations and WFH arrangements quickly.”

To enable staff to access data and information securely anytime and anywhere, DBS embraced the public cloud via Office365 Cloud/OneDrive as early as 2016, while existing collaboration tools such as video conferencing is playing a part in enabling teams to transition to remote working.

“In addition, our strategy to push for laptops instead of desktops – with a high adoption rate of 90% of laptops vs desktops before COVID-19 – stood us in good stead and helped us to avoid a sudden surge in spending for mass purchases of laptops,” Ng added.

As more employees began working from home, the surge in the use of voice and video conferencing will naturally, lead to higher bandwidth requirements. In anticipation, DBS regional teams moved quickly to support IT teams in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan to ramp up VPN capacity.

While VPN access allowed most DBS employees to access the bank’s suite of enterprise productivity tools, such as email and intranet, many work teams also required remote access to critical business applications. DBS Technology Service teams thus, worked around-the-clock to enable technology solutions that allow staff to access these systems outside of the office network without compromising security.

Ng was also keen to highlight the important role that DBS’ long-standing cyber defence efforts is playing in ensuring the operational safety of employees working from home. “These efforts, carried out over the years, and led by our cybersecurity team, would not be possible to achieve overnight. We have also put in place multiple layers of preventive and detective controls across all infrastructure.

“These controls ensure that we do not just rely on a signature-based detection approach, but also emphasise heavily on behavioural anomaly monitoring to guard against both external attacks and insider threats.”

TOGETHER, DBS employees are connected

As the world continues to make adjustments to the way we live and work in the wake of COVID-19, DBS believes that it is critical to keep employees connected and uplifted, while encouraging them to express care and concern for one another.

With these key goals in mind, DBS launched the TOGETHER movement, which aims to galvanise employees through four tracks:

  • Encourage new behaviours and ways of working
  • Build social connections
  • Promote health and well-being
  • Develop innovative solutions to encourage social responsibility and raise morale

Ng Ying Yuan, chief operating officer, Group Human Resources, DBS, elaborated, “Aligned with these four tracks, a series of programmes and activities have been rolled out, including regular communication on new ways of working, equipping managers to manage remote teams, WFH ideas and tips, as well as reminders on the need to practise social responsibility and remain vigilant against cybersecurity threats.

“Employees can also access webinars on topics such as health and well-being, home exercises or specifically about COVID-19 through the bank’s videoconferencing platforms.”

To encourage more employees to pick up new skills, knowledge and experiences, DBS is also organising the “LearnShareTeach TOGETHER” virtual festival from April 27 – 30. Besides discussing topics such as AI and the global economy, the virtual festival will also allow DBS employees to share and bond with colleagues sharing common interests.

In the spirit of the TOGETHER movement, DBS employees have not only taken new work arrangements in their stride, but have gone a step further to develop their own initiatives for staff engagement, reported Ng.

“For example, our technology and operations team is developing a mobile app game to reinforce social responsibility behaviours, while others have tapped on our videoconferencing platforms to come up with new team rituals to keep morale high.

“A number of teams have started sharing their lunch virtually and catching up with each other, while another has moved their appreciation parties online, connecting team members in multiple markets virtually from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

“We also know of teams that have regular virtual book clubs to connect outside of work conversations, while encouraging continuous learning. These are just a few examples of creative employee initiatives as we adapt to the new normal of WFH.”