Capital One on Thursday delayed its office reopening for the second time since August, and the bank is refusing to predict a specific date on which it will let employees return, it said in a statement on its website.
The bank will give employees 30 days’ notice before the decision to reopen is made sometime next year, it said. Capital One in August pushed back its office-return date from Sept. 7 to Nov. 2.
"It has been 574 days since Capital One first closed its U.S. offices," the bank’s Thursday statement reads. "Sustained progress to contain and reduce the impacts of COVID-19 in the United States has been elusive. Eighteen months into this pandemic, this virus continues to surprise and frustrate humanity."
Capital One listed pandemic-related progress and pain points in laying out its reasoning.
"New COVID-19 cases are down 25% over the last two weeks. Vaccination rates are inching upward," the bank said Thursday. But 96% of counties in the U.S. have high or substantial COVID transmission rates, and children under age 12 can’t yet be vaccinated, it added.
The bank in July made Mondays and Fridays virtual workdays — ahead of a previous anticipated office return. But even then, it kept its expectations low and its remote-work policy liberal.
"At least through the end of this year, we recognize that some associates will have circumstances or concerns that may make it difficult to come into the office," CEO Richard Fairbank wrote in a July memo. "Remote work is not a niche opportunity — it works at scale in the mainstream."
The bank’s emphasis on cards over branches influences its policy, too. Capital One by October 2020 had said most of its U.S. call-center workers would stay remote after the pandemic ends.
"It is with sincere hope that a return to life as we always knew it is just around the corner," Capital One said Thursday. "Our company remains in awe of the resilience, grace and humanity with which our associates continue to serve our customers and communities."
Capital One is hardly the only bank to table its office return until 2022 as the delta variant spiked the COVID-19 caseload. TD last month said it doesn’t expect a broader return "before calendar 2022." Wells Fargo has delayed its office return four times since August.