While many people are still preparing to return to their offices, given the unique nature of their client relationships in a retail environment, the Schwab Branch Network has already resumed in-person work.
One such person is Anthony Viviano, manager of the Grand Central branch in New York City.
From in-person to remote to in-person again
Being in the heart of New York during the pandemic has been a unique experience for the Grand Central branch, which saw many of its regular clients flee to other areas outside the city. The branch closed in the middle of March 2020 when the rest of Schwab and much of the nation went into quarantine.
"We didn't miss a beat," says Anthony of the switch to working remotely. "We learned new ways to support our clients. We utilized tools like WebEx and were able to successfully serve clients from home."
And while the branches saw success in serving clients remotely, they also recognize the value of face-to-face interactions, and the important role that they play in contributing to Schwab’s differentiated commitment to customer service.
“I started going back into the office in the beginning of the summer of 2020,” explains Anthony. “We run a business with each branch, and we have a responsibility to our clients and to the firm, so I felt like I needed to be there.”
Many of the branch employees followed Anthony’s lead and participated in a voluntary phased return before the official reopening of the branches to the public in the Spring of 2021.
Adopting a hybrid work model
Since then, branch employees have continued to adapt to new ways of working, including keeping lines of communication open to make sure that everyone has the flexibility they need during a time when things continue to change, and adjusting to a hybrid model of remote and in-person work as needed.
“Some of our clients may never return to the city,” explains Anthony. “But we have in-person client appointments every day again. And we’ve learned that we can still support our clients—in many ways better than before. The important thing is that we want to be with our clients one way or another. Whether that is in the branch, out in the field or on the phone or WebEx. We’ll continue to adapt and be there for them in whatever way they need us.”
Reflecting on the whirlwind of managing an in-person business in a city that was hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, Anthony has found some silver linings.
“I have such a great appreciation and respect for my team in Grand Central, our NYC branches, and the entire branch network,” explains Anthony. “We needed to step up and make important decisions at a time when there was so much uncertainty, and when so much was at stake. But I can say that we always put the health and safety of our people first, and we will continue to do that.”
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