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Wall Street Banks Delay Return to Work as Omicron Spreads

Omicron Slams the Brakes on Return to Work

Wall Street banks JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) are among several firms allowing workers to usher in 2022 from the comfort of their home offices. Both companies were pushing workers to return to work before the emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants, but have now changed their plans. Analysts predict Wall Street’s return-to-work process will foreshadow what’s to come in other white-collar industries.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman CEO David Solomon are both firmly in favor of welcoming workers back into the office, saying this makes it easier to both maintain work culture and train new employees. Still, it seems some firms are attempting to strike a delicate balance in this regard, as many workers have come to enjoy the added flexibility that comes with working from home all the time or using a hybrid structure.

Employees Want Work-From-Home to Stay

Throughout the fall, high-level executives and traders flocked to their Wall Street workplaces. Just before Omicron emerged in November, Morgan Stanley reported around 65% of employees commuted to the company’s New York offices on any given day. That varies from this past summer, when JPMorgan reported mixed results in attempting to get 50% of workers into the office, and tasked managers with finding out why employees weren’t coming in.

Some companies like Citigroup Inc. (C) are hoping to attract workers from other banks by adopting flexible work-from-home policies, a trend that could spill over into other white-collar sectors.

Hybrid Approach Is Possible

It appears increasingly likely that a hybrid approach to office work could make the most sense. This would provide workers with added flexibility while managers could invite employees into the office for training and other tasks. HSBC Holdings (HSBC) reported around 90% of staffers followed a hybrid schedule, even prior to the Omicron surge in December.

Omicron’s spread and the resulting surge in case numbers has led a number of Wall Street banking firms to put return-to-office plans on pause. The coming months and years will have an important impact on the long-term reality for office work in the digital age.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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