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Opinion Updated: 23 March 2020

I applaud you

In the internal blog ‘The Pulse’, BBVA CEO Onur Genç dedicated a few words of thanks to the bank’s employees for their dedication and hard work during the coronavirus outbreak. “Each one of you has done an exceptional job since the start of this pandemic,” he said. “I am extremely proud to be a part of this great team.”

At 8 o’clock every evening, loud applause rings out across Spain as people of all ages gather on their windows and balconies to show support for the doctors, nurses, and other personnel on the front lines of this global fight in which we are all engaged. We see similar scenes repeated all around the globe. It’s such a simple gesture, but in a time like this, it is unspeakably grand and it fills my heart to see such solidarity all around the world.

As we clap, I can’t help but think about BBVA’s heroes. Every one of you has worked so hard both individually and as one team since this pandemic first began, and particularly this past week. I am so proud to be part of this great team.

Our priorities are clear, FIRST and FOREMOST the safety and health of our employees, clients and society. Then, we do our best to maintain the continuity of our operations to support our clients. Absolutely everything else comes after these priorities, period.

In alignment with our priorities, across our global footprint, around 90 percent of our employees in central services are now working remotely, and as much as the regulations allow us, we continue to reduce the amount of personnel working in our branches. In Spain, for instance, 90 percent of network employees are now telecommuting, while still continuing to bring essential banking services to the community.

I want to specifically recognize and thank our colleagues who are still out there serving clients. Due to the nature of our job, authorities consider us an essential service in many countries, which means banks are open, even under quarantine and similar measures. You can be certain that we are doing our level best in talking to public sector officials to get as many of you to your homes as possible. In the meantime, please follow the strict instructions of conduct we have put together and observe all the precautions. You are my true heroes. I implore you to stay safe.

I also want to acknowledge the efforts of many of our colleagues working in the War Rooms all around the world to ensure our safety, and to ensure the continuity of our operations. What an incredible human and technical effort they have put in place so that many of us are now working remote.

As many of you are now teleworking, I have received many questions on how best to adapt to a new way of living and new way of working. Our context has changed dramatically and turned into a situation most of us never thought we would experience. So, my humble advice is be kind to yourself. The line between work and home is blurred and I know it feels different, but also overwhelming and exhausting. Each of us are doing our jobs, taking care of our families, and juggling our day to day. All I ask is that you prioritize your health and safety of yourself and your families first. Then, do your best in this difficult environment, understanding that your best may look very different than it did before, and that’s okay.

Finally, a paragraph that I struggled to write at the personal and professional level. Many times we refer to ourselves as the BBVA family of more than 125,000 people. These are the periods that test whether we truly mean it, in a true and genuine way. To the members of this family, I felt the need to bring the transparency of close to 100 positive cases within BBVA. We are closely monitoring each and trying to help. We also informed and quarantined colleagues who may have been at risk of exposure, following a strict procedure. As I keep thinking about our affected colleagues, I humbly ask you to send your best wishes and thoughts to them as well.

What matters is that we are in this together. Now, more than ever, we are ONE TEAM, battling an unprecedented global challenge.

To those that are affected, I wish you a full recovery soon.

To those with close relatives and friends afflicted, courage.

To those enduring this alone and missing family and loved ones, patience.

To those that are parents and working through this to ensure their kids are emotionally supported, appreciation.

For all of you, strength and good health.

My heart is with all of you. Stay safe, stand strong.

A todos vosotros, sed fuertes y cuidaros mucho.