Goldman Sachs follows Wall Street rivals when asking employees to work from home

Goldman Sachs asked its US employees on Sunday to work from home for the first two weeks of the year, joining Wall Street competitors who had already given similar instructions as coronavirus cases have increased.

Employees who are able to work remotely should do so until January 18 in response to increasing infection rates, the investment bank said in an email to employees. Just last week, the company announced new requirements for amplifiers and testing, but unlike many of its peers, they did not encourage employees to work from home. Goldman called most workers back to office in June, and its CEO, David M. Solomon, is a strong advocate for working in the office. The bank has 43,000 employees, many based in Manhattan.

The United States has, on average, more than 300,000 new cases a day for the first time in the pandemic. And the Omicron variant has prompted large Wall Street companies, which have been eager to bring back workers, to postpone these plans. Before the latest increase, office participation had stubbornly remained low when bankers staged a quiet uprising: Parents are still worried about transmitting the virus to their children, suburban residents avoid long commutes and many workers have shown they are productive while working from home.

As staff sift back, the financial industry, which employs 332,100 people in New York City, may also need to increase the vaccine. Eric Adams, who was sworn in as mayor early Saturday, said he would maintain his predecessor’s private sector mandate.

Goldman demands that people who enter their buildings be inoculated, and from February 1, it will require a booster for all employees who are eligible to receive one. It had already announced that from 10 January, employees entering the office would be tested for the virus twice a week at on-site test centers, and increase from a current requirement to once a week.

JPMorgan Chase gave its US employees the flexibility to work from home for the first two weeks of the year, but wants them to return to work schedules by February 1, according to a note sent to employees last week.

“We are not changing our long-term plans to work in the office,” said the bank’s operations committee. The bank can also change its policy for vaccinations, which it has not demanded so far. “Publicly issued vaccine mandates can probably make it difficult or impossible for us to continue to employ unvaccinated staff, so it is very important to get the vaccine,” the memo said. The bank may soon also demand a booster shot for people entering the buildings.

Bank of America urged U.S. employees to work from home in the week of Jan. 3 and will provide updates as it monitors the spread of the virus, according to a note Thursday. The company will also host on-site booster clinics for employees across the country this month.

Citigroup expanded teleworking for its US employees. “We ask that you work from home during the first weeks of the new year if you are able to,” the bank said in a note to employees on Thursday. “We will continue to monitor the data and provide an update in January on when we expect to be back in the office.”

That guide applied to employees at more than 30 offices around the country who had been called back since September. Employees in New York City and New Jersey already had the opportunity to work from home in the last weeks of the year.

Wells Fargo has postponed its nationwide return to the office, while corporate employees at Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank in New York were given more leeway to work remotely during the holidays.

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