How ABN AMRO Clearing's Robbert Booij is still working

Part of an FIA series on people in the derivatives industry adapting to coronavirus challenges

5 May 2020


Robbert Booij, CEO Region Europe,
ABN AMRO Clearing Bank 

Robbert Booij in his home office with pictures of friends and colleagues, as drawn by his children.

What’s one significant way coronavirus has affected your work? 

When I am at home, I spend much of my time on the phone or on video conference calls with colleagues and clients. Children appearing during meetings to get something out of a room which probably belonged to them before Mum or Dad took over is something I see quite often!

The most significant impact of this situation is that the informal interaction with colleagues – the coffee machine chatter and the information you pick up from walking around the office that helps you in your role – has almost disappeared. It is important to make an effort to stay connected and stay close. We have become creative in that sense. For example, I introduced digital drinks with my team where everybody says something about the drink they have in front of them, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and why they chose it, and it's these little things that ensure that as a group of people we stay connected as a team.

What’s a typical day like for you right now as we “shelter in place”?  

I mix my days between my home office and the Amsterdam work office, as we still have some staff present for critical functions. There is always a risk of staying in a room the whole day if you work from home, so I try to start the day with a 5K or 10K run, depending on how fit I feel. Then I have a check-in with my team by video. I believe it's important to do this by video so you get a sense of the emotional well-being of your team. During calls and crisis team meetings we hold throughout the day, we mix the business-as-usual topics with more corona-related topics. As a leading global clearing firm, we need to make sure we manage the high volumes that we've seen on the exchanges and that we do everything we can to look after our clients and our colleagues.

What’s something that has given you hope for the future after this pandemic?

What we are seeing is that there are more sustainable ways of working. We have proven that we can continue with our jobs without the need to be packed in public transport every day to get to the office. Perhaps it's not yet a proven correlation, but from my perspective and when I look out of the window, the air looks much cleaner than before. Hopefully, we can make the world a bit more sustainable by working more often from home.

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