COMMENT: Why it makes sense to clear your desk now if you work for Deutsche Bank

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There's no certainty that Deutsche Bank will announce 20,000 redundancies on Monday, but based upon my own experience of working in the banking industry I can completely understand why it is that some Deutsche staff are already packing boxes in case of the worst.

In 15 years in banking I have seen a lot of people let go. And believe me, it happens fast. The actual process is often over in 10 minutes. - You're usually called to your boss's office or to a random meeting room. By the time you open the door your computer will probably have shut itself down. By the time you get back to your desk your pass will have been deactivated and you will be off the system forever. Welcome to the rest of your life.

This is how it's supposed to go. Sometimes, however, the process happens in the wrong sequence. One of the most famous instances of this was at UBS in 2012, when employees arrived at work only to find that they couldn't get through the turnstiles because their passes had been deactivated. Harsh yes, but at least UBS's employees could go to the pub together and commiserate. It's worse when you're subject to a messy redundancy on your own.

I've seen this happen a few times too. For example, a senior banker I know got a call at the end of a client meeting that had overrun. He answered, and it was HR telling him his services were no longer needed. Seriously.

I know another colleague who was accidentally informed by IT. He arrived at work and couldn't login to his computer. The IT helpdesk were called and the IT guy broke the news that he needed to talk to his boss or to HR. Turned out his boss was late in that day.

When you're let go, you're not always allowed back to your desk to collect your stuff. This has been a problem for a lot of people I know, who keep a lot of stuff in their desks. In many cases you're escorted out of the building after your interview with HR and whatever's in your desk is sent back to you later. It can take the bank months to ship back your personal items, plus you have the ignominy of having your Viagra or Prozac or hemorrhoid cream or whatever else you keep in your drawers exposed to all your now-former colleagues. Far better to take the initiative and clear out your desk yourself. - Even if you work for Deutsche Bank and think your job will be safe come Monday.

Amit Itelmon is the pseudonym of a banker in London

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