Top U.S. banks see long road ahead for return-to-office plans

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Four of the nation's largest banks updated their progress in recent days on return-to-office plans. The takeaway: Most workers won't be back anytime soon.

Citigroup

About 30% of the bank's staff in the New York City area want to come back, Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason said. A survey sent last month to regional employees found that most wanted to start gradually, by going in a few days a week. In July, the bank invited 5% of its workers back to the office, and last week more returned as part of a planned reopening.

"We want employees to feel safe as they make their decision to return," Mason said. "There are no set plans at this point for the timing of the next phase."

Mason, Chief Executive Michael Corbat and Jane Fraser, who will take Corbat's job in February, are working from the bank's headquarters in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood, Mason said.

Goldman Sachs

The Wall Street giant has roughly 2,000 people in its New York office, and workers are rotating through the facility on a weekly basis, CEO David Solomon said. Some 60% of employees in Hong Kong and Tokyo are back, while around half those in Europe have returned to their desks, excluding the U.K., where the level is around 30%.

Therapies and vaccines are in development that "in time will allow all of us to return to a more normalized environment," Solomon said. "Being together enables greater collaboration."

The firm is also offering returning workers access to free COVID-19 tests to determine both active infections and whether a person previously had the virus, according to an internal memo.

JPMorgan Chase

About 20% of staff in the New York and London regions have returned to the office, CFO Jennifer Piepszak said. CEO Jamie Dimon generally has been more vociferous than his peers in encouraging people to return to the office, touting its benefits over working from home. Still, he's been circumspect about how quickly that might happen.

"I don't expect normality until summer 2021," Dimon said Friday at a conference. "We're going to have to live with this."

Wells Fargo

More than 200,000 of the bank's employees are working from home, CEO Charlie Scharf said, and "we don't anticipate this changing until at least December." Roughly one in five branches remain closed.

Bloomberg News
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