We have arrived at the two-year anniversary of Beijing first alerting the WHO to the outbreak in Wuhan (an outbreak they initially insisted wasn't spread by human-to-human contact, a lie that was quickly exposed as BS). And yet analysts, bankers and others still have no idea when they will be returning to the office for good.
As Bloomberg reported Friday, JP Morgan, one of Wall Street's staunchest advocates for returning to the office, is allowing workers to continue laboring remotely through the opening weeks of 2022, if not longer.
"We are not changing our long-term plans of working in the office," JPMorgan told staff in a memo on Thursday. "However, with the increase in holiday travel and gatherings, we are allowing for more flexibility during the first two weeks of January to work from home (if your role allows) at your manager’s discretion."
Right now, JPM has a tentative return date set for Feb. 1.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is backtracking on its latest back-to-office plans by asking its US workforce to continue working from home until Jan. 18 if they can, Bloomberg reports. Since the start of the pandemic, Goldman CEO David Solomon has expressed his distaste for
The reversal from Goldman follows similar decisions by JPM, Citi and other rivals.
Goldman has long been one of the staunchest advocates of returning to the office, even going so far as to require its workers to get their booster shots.
"As we continue to monitor the trajectory of this spike, we now encourage those who can work effectively from home to do so," the bank said in a memo shared with staff on Sunday.
The Vampire Squid (as Goldman is sometimes known/doubled down on its mandatory booster plan by making vaccination booster shots compulsory. Anyone entering its offices must get a booster by Feb. 1 if they’re eligible for the injections by that date.
Given the success of the past year, banks are lee motivated about returning to the office. Citigroup loosened workplace policies in recent weeks, allowing staff across the New York metropolitan area to work remotely over the holidays. Now, "we are asking that you work from home for the first few weeks of the New Year if you are able to do so," the bank said in a memo Thursday. "We will continue to monitor the data and provide an update in January on when we expect to be back in the office."
NYC and the surrounding area have been hit hard by this winter's surge in COVID cases. The jump in infections has raised concerns about the pace of workers returning to skyscrapers across Manhattan. It has forced a number of banks to revise staffing strategies in recent weeks, with a number of them easing off mandates to commute to buildings.
Some banks are already demanding staffers get boosted even though they aren't coming into the office. Jefferies has asked staff earlier this month to work remotely and get a vaccine booster by the end of January. Morgan Stanley told employees who will be in the office during the first two weeks of January to limit large in-person meetings and to wear face coverings when not at their desks.
Golldman Sachs, the undisputed Wall Street leader and an important trendsetter, told staff that it will mandate booster vaccinations and double testing to twice weekly as it stands by CEO David Solomon's demands that workers return to the office unless sickened.
Right now, JPMorgan is only "encouraging" employees to get boosters - but that could soon change as the bank contemplates ratcheting up the pressure.
"To be considered fully vaccinated may soon mean that a booster will also be required to enter our buildings," the bank wrote in the memo. Unvaccinated staff, it noted, must be tested twice weekly when working in offices.
Bankers in London, meanwhile, are expecting to start the year at home after the UK government recommended a shift to more remote work on Dec. 8, leaving the city quiet even before the Christmas break.