Goldman Sachs became one of the first big banks to put an end to remote work on Tuesday, when it asked a majority of its workers based in the United States and United Kingdom to return to the office in June.
In a memo to employees, Goldman executives asked that workers “make plans to be in a position to return to the office” by June 14 in the U.S. and June 21 in Britain.
“We are focused on progressing on our journey to gradually bring our people back together again, where it is safe to do so,” said the memo, which was signed by David M. Solomon, the firm’s chief executive, as well as his two top lieutenants, John E. Waldron and Stephen M. Scherr. The executives said the bank was “now in a position to activate the next steps in our return to office strategy.”
Exceptions would be made where warranted, according to the memo, which noted that in India and Latin America, where Goldman also employs workers, the health challenges remain substantial. But in New York, where the bank is headquartered, pandemic restrictions are being lifted on May 19 as coronavirus cases fall and vaccination rates increase. The city is expecting fuller offices, restaurants and subways over the summer.
Banks, which are among the largest employers in New York, have been eager to bring workers back into the office, concerned that an extended period of working from home would hurt the training, camaraderie and work culture that develops when people are together. Many of these firms have allowed at least some, if not most, employees to work from the office during most of the pandemic.
Goldman began a gradual return to the office last summer, with temperature checks and other new safety protocols. In recent months, it has been operating with 20 percent or more of its usual staff in the office in both the U.S. and 25 percent or more in Britain, a spokesperson said. But as more and more people get vaccinated in New York and in London, and as the firm adds thousands of new hires who will report to work this summer, it was time to move forward, according to the memo and a person familiar with Goldman executives’ thinking, who said the new notification had been in the works for about a month.
At least one other major financial firm has signaled its desire to return to the office in fuller force this summer. JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, plans to open all its U.S. offices on May 17 for employees who wish to return voluntarily. That will be followed by a compulsory return in July, when workers will rotate in and out of the office in accordance with safety measures that will limit capacity at each office.
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, who has previously spoken about the advantages of working from the office, reiterated his comments at a Wall Street Journal C.E.O. conference on Tuesday morning.
“We want people back to work, and my view is that sometime in September, October it will look just like it did before,” Mr. Dimon said. “And yes, the commute, you know yes people don’t like commuting, but so what.”
Mr. Dimon, who said he was “about to cancel all my Zoom meetings,” also acknowledged some pushback to the return-to-office news. “The wife of a husband sent me a nasty note about, ‘How can you make him go back?’” he said.
Other banks have not yet mandated a return.
Citigroup has said that while it will invite additional workers back to the office in July, it expects to only have about 30 percent of its North America-based employees back by the end of the summer. Bank of America plans to issue 30-day notices to employees it wants to invite back, said a spokeswoman, but the firm has not announced a schedule for doing so, although Brian Moynihan, the bank’s chief executive, said recently that the transition would not occur until after Labor Day.
The Goldman Sachs memo on Tuesday targeted the roughly 20,000 employees who are based in the firm’s New York headquarters as well as other U.S. cities, including San Francisco and Dallas, a person familiar with the figures said. Goldman employs another 6,000 or so workers in Britain, where it operates in London and another, smaller office, this person added.
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