Remote Work Trails Off as Big Banks Announce New COVID-19 Protocols

Big bank employees are beginning to return to their offices, following an initial delay caused by the COVID-19 Omicron variant earlier in 2022.

As remote work drops off, Wall Street’s major financial firms have issued new protocols, characterized by a lessening of pandemic restrictions.

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc., for example, which had called people back to the office in June (barring virus surges), lifted its remaining pandemic guidelines on September 6, according to Reuters. The bank has done away with mandatory mask and regular testing requirements, and employees in all Americas offices except for New York City and Lima will be permitted to enter buildings regardless of vaccination status.

Morgan Stanley also discontinued mandatory testing and monitoring protocols in its New York metropolitan offices in early September, as did JPMorgan Chase & Co., which discontinued the practice of hiring only vaccinated individuals.

In a letter to shareholders in April, JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the bank expected 50% of employees to return full-time to the office, 40% to follow a hybrid plan, and a select 10% in specific roles to work remotely.

At Citigroup, where masking and testing are no longer required per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, vaccinations are still mandatory for the bank’s U.S. workers not granted an exemption. A majority of employees are expected to work in person for at least three days a week, according to Reuters.

Wells Fargo, which has not mandated masks, testing, or vaccinations except in locations where they are legally required, instituted a flexible hybrid model in March that has employees working at least three days on-site.

Employees of Jefferies Financial Group are also leaving home for the office. Citing “lonely home silos,” Chief Executive Richard Handler said in a letter that having people working together would improve output in the fourth quarter of the year.

“As long as COVID continues to be manageable, we need everyone back in our offices on a consistent basis," Handler said.

Finally, Bank of America is set to outline new work-from-home guidelines over the next six to eight weeks, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said during a conference in early September, noting that the bank’s offices are full and lively.