How does ING WBAA deal with the Corona crisis while developing a buddy system and remote fun

Check out our plan to deal with the quarantine! Practical tips to keep business going and retain team cohesion while having fun.

On the 11th of March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. With the new virus creeping across the globe, organizations, teams, and managers need to be well-prepared and take the necessary measures before the storm hits. ING Wholesale Banking Advanced Analytics (WBAA) initiated these measures right on time in order to protect the well-being of our team members while ensuring business continuity.

Bolke de Bruin announced a full plan for WBAA to tackle the Coronavirus crisis. He said regarding his decision and strategy onwards:

VP of Engineering ING WBAA

“ING asked us to prepare for a prolonged work-from-home scenario. With the team, we sat down to really think out what matters when such a scenario kicks in. It’s not just “hey, go home and it’s business as usual”. It became apparent that it was important to address anxiety, the needs of people without a strong social network locally and how to keep having fun. So when ING took the decision to execute the work-from-home scenario we were able to communicate very clearly what we expected from the Tribe and what they could expect from us. I am extremely proud and humbled by the fact that the Tribe responded so decisively: we had 20 volunteers within an hour or two, people are constantly sharing how they deal with issues and people are flexible and reaching out towards each other while adjusting to the new current”.

Corona Virus Plan

WBAA is a diverse, multicultural team operating from four different locations. This means that communicating and cooperating remotely is already part of our DNA. However, we still needed to turn this disruption into an opportunity to explore new strategies and unveil our team’s dynamics.

The first measure taken was work from home for all Amsterdam team members, while being mindful of the use of VDI/Gras and VPN connections. Attend all meetings as usual, but virtually. We emphasize on the humanization of communication by switching to richer, real-time tools like Skype for video conferencing, or Facetime/WhatsApp for one-to-one meetings.

The next measure was to ensure each team member’s well-being. Our chapter lead will check in with us, twice per week on a personal level. This will happen cross-borders including UK, PL, and RO. For those who do not have a direct chapter lead, an area lead will reach out in the same manner.

WBAA Buddy System

Being diverse and multicultural is what we’re proud of but at the same time, it means we need to reassure that our non-Dutch colleagues have equal access to help and information. In this regard, WBAA set up a list of local helpers, where volunteers will offer help with navigating Dutch healthcare, getting supplies (e.g. food, medicine), Dutch translations, tech/remote work-related issues, or even provide accommodation if needed.

The response was heart-warming with 20 colleagues volunteering to help their teammates during this crisis:

Joop Vahl — PO ING WBAA

“I cannot turn a blind eye to any person who would be adversely affected during these times. I know that a lot of our colleagues are in a vulnerable position without a social safety net so I see it as my civic duty to provide help where I can”

Fun and Social Cohesion

Undergoing the COVID-19 crisis, while being in quarantine and bombarded with the latest updates on the spread of the virus can be really demotivating. We need to keep our team spirit alive, be productive and retain engagement while having fun. For that, we have set-up a series of activities like the following:

Virtual Water Cooler: We want to catch up with our small talk. Therefore, we share our daily updates, virtual coffees, and corona banter to empower our WBAA sense of camaraderie.

…How does our Workplace look like??

…Our Art connoisseurs’ favorite house art-deco

…What we’re cooking

…And of course our family members

Selfie of the week challenge: Being creative is not always easy but a teammate-selfie is definitely fun to check out!

Online Chess Tournament

Fun Stuff to Do at Home (Recipes, Books, Netflix recommendations and more..)

Remote Gymnastics, Embodied Online Sessions


Example Activity-Schedule for kids

Healthy Tips

Red Cross’ Ready to Help network. Available if you want to be alerted of neighbors in need of support, information actions and other activities during crises

More ideas from colleagues come in every day on how to efficiently tackle this crisis, while the plan was welcomed by all team members who immediately jumped in to make the best out of it.

Barend Garvelink — Data Engineer

“I really appreciate that the “support network” and “fun stuff” concerns are explicitly part of this announcement”

“I found the plan to be well thought-off, reassuring, motivating and properly explaining the balance between us not crowding work-from-home features due to our own VDI connection, while assessing the risk of having such great diversity in teams and locations”. — Joop Vahl

Since this is an ongoing crisis, and to avoid the overwhelming amount of information out there, we make sure to share a brief weekly update regarding the news — including escalation of COVID-19 measures per each of our Tribe’s locations- practicalities, and day-to-day tips.

This is a challenging time for everyone but we choose to see it as an opportunity to revisit our old assumptions and come out stronger in the long run. The Coronavirus can knock anyone’s door, so instead of running away from the fire, we choose empathy and transparent communication.



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Nikoletta Bozika

Nikoletta Bozika

Communication Lead @ING Global Analytics