Omicron is messing with back-to-the-office plans for both JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.
Citing the spike in Covid-19 cases, both big banks told US employees on Thursday that they can start 2022 by working remotely.
In a memo obtained by CNN, Citi (C) asked its US employees to work from home for the first few weeks of the new year if they are able to do so. The bank pointed to the “rise in Covid-19 cases across the US due to the omicron variant.”
“We will continue to monitor the data and provide an update in January on when we expect to be back in the office in a similar manner as we have been,” Citi said in the memo, which was previously reported by Bloomberg.
Citi has taken a more relaxed approach than some of its US-based rivals in getting employees back to the office. Prior to latest shift, many of Citi’s US employees have been working in a hybrid model that called for them to be in the office at least twice a week.
JPMorgan still wants employees back by Feb. 1
JPMorgan (JPM) said in a Thursday memo that its employees will be allowed to work from home during the first two weeks of 2022. The largest US bank said this will be at managers’ discretion and only applies to those whose role allows for remote work.
“Across the US we are seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases related to the Omicron variant,” JPMorgan said in the memo. “With the increase in holiday travel and gatherings, we are allowing for more flexibility during the first two weeks of January.”
JPMorgan stressed that it is “not changing our long-term plans of working in the office” – and employees will be due back soon.
“We expect everyone to return to their in-office schedule no later than February 1,” the memo said.
‘Please get the booster’
JPMorgan encouraged all employees, including vaccinated ones, to get tested before returning to the office following holiday travel or gatherings. Unvaccinated employees are required to get rapid tests at least twice a week before entering JPMorgan facilities.
JPMorgan urged employees to get vaccinated and get boosted.
“Please get the booster,” the memo said. “The booster is shown to further reduce the risk of serious illness from Covid-19.”
The moves by JPMorgan and Citi underscore how the lingering pandemic has complicated the efforts by leaders on Wall Street to get employees back into the office.
In June, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman warned employees he’d be “very disappointed” if they weren’t back in the office by Labor Day. If they failed to return, he added, “Then we’ll have a very different kind of conversation.”
By December, the Morgan Stanley boss walked back that edict.
“I was wrong on this,” Gorman told CNBC. “I thought we would have been out of it past Labor Day, and we’re not.”