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Opinion 27 April 2020

Our new daily routine

In the internal blog ‘The Pulse’, BBVA executive chairman Carlos Torres Vila shares his “new daily routine”, during the COVID-19 lockdown. ” I encourage you all to adapt your routines to find the right balance”, he writes.

Hello everybody, I hope you are all doing well.

It seems incredible but we’ve been under lockdown for weeks now and most of us have not been able to leave the house much. Although we have gradually adapted to this situation with new routines, I’m sure we all miss the way things were before the pandemic.

Luckily, I’ve been able to work from home and many things have not changed, as I still have many internal and external “meetings.” But I miss seeing people in person, face-to-face meetings, and those chats around the office, as well as the ability to visit the different countries across the Group. Instead, we hold one videocall after another. It has been the same way for many of you, as the number of Webex and Hangout meetings has increased eightfold and is still growing. Although they are effective and work very well, sometimes we miss the personal touch and agility of meetings held in person, that human contact we all need.

Many of these “meetings” have to do with the pandemic —closely monitoring the health of our colleagues and public health metrics—and issues related to our business continuity plan. Some meetings also concern market trends and business metrics, especially those related to designing and implementing the plans in place to help our clients: deferring payments, providing liquidity and financing, and using the relief programs set up by the authorities. As you all know, one of BBVA’s top priorities is to decisively support our clients and the communities we serve during these challenging times.

Apart from talking frequently with investors and clients, under the current circumstances I spend more time in continuous contact with the authorities. After the initial phase of focusing on securing life-saving health equipment, we are now discussing how to mitigate the social and economic effects of the lockdown, and how we can lift the restrictions more quickly without putting our health at risk. One conclusion we invariably reach is that it is crucial that governments, the private sector, and society at large work together to overcome this crisis.

As you all know, one of BBVA’s top priorities is to decisively support our clients and the communities we serve during these challenging times

Of all the “meetings” I have had in recent weeks, the ones I particularly enjoy are the “virtual breakfasts” with some of our heroes, our colleagues who continue to go to the branches to provide our clients essential services. They are brimming with positive energy, generosity, and also creativity. They tell me about the advantages of remote management and our digital capabilities during the lockdown. They also tell me how much our clients appreciate the courtesy calls they make to let them know that we are there for them. And the feeling is mutual, because many clients ask our colleagues in the branches how they are doing as well. But above all, they tell me about their colleagues’ commitment and the exceptional service they provide. I love these meetings because you all make me enormously proud to be part of the same team, to be part of BBVA.

Personally, I recognize that being at home has its advantages, such as enjoying home-cooked meals every day in the company of my wife and two of my children. Although we are well organized and we have our workspaces set up, sometimes we talk over each other while we’re on the phone and the Wi-Fi is really slow because we’re all connected. But I miss seeing my father, and my daughter who lives out of town. I also miss seeing my friends. Fortunately, everyone is fine. I would like to send my condolences to all of you who have lost a loved one, and my best wishes to those of you who are now dealing with this illness.

Another thing I miss a lot is going to the gym, although I’ve been trying to do some exercise at home in the mornings. I’ve been able to read more than before and I also like to listen to music. It’s important to find time to unwind, because as Onur said a couple of weeks ago, working at home blurs the boundaries between our personal and professional lives. If you are not already doing so, I encourage you all to adapt your routines to find the right balance. As you already know, we have launched the #BBVAatHome initiative (a internal website), which serves as a meeting point and gives us ideas and tools to help us work from home, such as these ten tips that our colleagues in Talent & Culture have prepared.

We are starting from a position of strength and are better prepared to take a step forward, support our communities, and fortify our relationship with clients

I’m sure we are all looking forward to getting back to our normal lives. Although the return will be gradual, as we said in the Live@Home, hopefully governments will be able to lift restrictions soon without putting our health at risk, because the economic cost and the suffering caused by people being out of work due to the lockdown increases by the week. In order to return to the workplace, we must continue to follow the safety guidelines and hygiene measures in place, combined with the use of tests to identify and isolate new infections as quickly as possible. To achieve this, governments, the private sector and society in general must work together.

Finally, I would like to reiterate my message of hope. We have lived through many crises in the Group’s more than 160 years of history and we will also come out of this one stronger than before. We are starting from a position of strength and are better prepared to take a step forward, support our communities, and fortify our relationship with clients.

Until then, stay healthy and stay safe

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