Goldman Sachs asks staff to return to London Office

Bloomberg August 28 | Updated on August 28, 2020

Commuters wait for a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) near the offices of HSBC Holdings Plc in London   -  Bloomberg

However, other companies in the finance industry are firming up plans that are a combination of WFH and work at office

Thousands of bankers, brokers and wealth managers have spent the past few months turning kitchen tables into corner offices, selecting the best backdrops for video conferences and constructing their own trading rigs.

The precise nature of their future working environment remains an open question but some employers have started to offer glimpses of what to expect.

Here’s a variety of approaches that companies across the finance industry have announced.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.: The investment bank has sent invitations to hundreds of senior staff to return to its London offices in recent weeks. The firm is offering staff incentives such as free food, protective gear and access to on-site nursery, although the return to the office is voluntary, Financial News reported on August 27. “We continue to take a ‘people first’ approach and stay consistent with UK government guidelines,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp.: BNY Mellon has told the majority of its employees to continue working remotely for the rest of the year, postponing previous plans to have some staff return in September. About 96 per cent of the bank’s roughly 48,000 employees have been working remotely since March. They’ll continue to do so until at least January, a spokeswoman confirmed on August 26.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.: The Wall Street firm said it would allow its staff to cycle between days at the office and at home. Daniel Pinto, chief executive officer of the corporate and investment bank, said in a June interview he envisioned JPMorgans staff working in rotations with about a third logged on remotely at any time — although it’s unlikely anyone will always work remotely.

Citi, Barclays

Citigroup Inc.: After bringing about 5 per cent of employees back to its New York headquarters earlier this summer, Citigroup delayed similar plans for workers in US states that have seen a resurgence in cases, including Texas and Florida. More recently, the firm told its employees in North America that top executives will view data on local transmission rates after the Labour Day holiday in September to determine plans for reopening offices.

Barclays Plc: The British lender has about 69,000 staff working remotely until at least the end of September. The bank plans to inform them individually when to come back, with return dates likely to span several months from October. It’s important to get people back together in physical concentrations, CEO Jes Staley said in a Bloomberg Television interview in July, although he emphasised health and safety concerns would be paramount and didn’t set a timetable.

Bank of America Corp.: The second-biggest US lender will start bringing employees back to offices in phases after the Labour Day holiday September 7, providing staff with 30 days notice. The process will probably be limited at first, and consistent with the bank’s cautious approach. The moves will vary by role, department and location. Business travel is banned through September 7 unless approved by a member of the top management team, while in-person events are also restricted internally and externally.

Singapore banks

DBS Group Holdings Ltd.: Singapore’s largest bank said about 70 per cent of its local employees work from home. While remote working has not affected short-term productivity, its long-term impact on customer journeys, experimentation and innovation is less clear. In addition, it is important to establish the impact of remote working on psychology and culture. We continue to work through what is the new optimal, a spokesperson said in an emailed reply to questions.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.: Singapore’s second-biggest lender doesn’t have a targeted percentage ratio of how many staff should work in the office, its corporate security head Francisco John Celio said. Currently just under 60 per cent of its employees work from the office. This number came from assessing the services, job functions and processes required to support business and consumer activities, the environmental risk due to Covid-19 and individual staff concerns such as medical or family circumstances, he said.

NatWest Group Plc: The UK lender said in July that 80 per cent of its staff will continue to work remotely until 2021, extending its previous guidance that workers would be home until September. The decision affects about 50,000 people.

Schroders Plc: The London-based asset manager said in August it has embraced flexible working permanently. The change will make it easier for its workforce of nearly 5,000 to stay home when they need to, and will see less stringent requirements on the amount of time they need to be in the office or logged on to work systems, a company spokesman said. The change applies to all staff worldwide, but depends on their job responsibilities.

Standard Life Aberdeen Plc: The Edinburgh-based firm said that while it plans to allow a small number of colleagues to return to the office in the coming months, the majority will continue to work from home until at least the end of the year.

IG Group Holdings Plc: Staff won’t need to return to the office until next year, according to an August 26 memo from the trading platform’s chief operating officer Jon Noble. The company will review this decision in early 2021. Those who return will encounter one-way systems and fewer desks and meeting rooms. You should expect that it will look and feel different, wrote Noble.

Published on August 28, 2020

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