UPDATE: Sept. 10, 2020: Citi began circulating a survey Wednesday to its employees in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, gauging staff members’ interest in returning to the office beginning Oct. 5, Bloomberg reported.
The questionnaire also asks employees choosing to stay home to give a general reason, so the bank can offer potential solutions.
Workers who are ill at ease with taking mass transit, for example, are being asked if a bank-provided shuttle from hubs such as Grand Central Terminal would make them more comfortable.
Citi would initially cap daily office presence at 30%, a source told Bloomberg. And returning won’t necessarily mean coming in to a downtown office every day. About 5% of the bank’s tri-state-area staff works from the bank’s physical locations now. Managers won’t pressure employees if demand is lower than the 30% threshold, the wire service reported.
Staff members who express interest in returning will get more information about the process in coming weeks.
UPDATE: July 5, 2020: Reluctance to use public transport is a major hurdle preventing workers from returning to the office, Paco Ybarra, CEO of Citi's institutional clients group, said Thursday at a virtual conference hosted by the bank.
“If everyone was living close to the office and could walk to the office, I think my guess is we’d have many more people willing to come,” Ybarra said, according to Bloomberg. “In any case, unless there’s a vaccine, and while the virus is still around, the max we can get to is 30% or 40% in offices.”
- Citi will postpone bringing employees back to its offices in 13 states, including Texas and Florida, a source told Bloomberg, as the U.S. reported a record 50,203 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, according to CNN.
- The nation's third-largest bank had planned to bring 5% of its U.S. employees back to offices Wednesday, including operations staff in the bank’s Tampa- and Jacksonville, Florida-based consumer unit. That strategy is still in effect in much of the Northeast.
- The move comes on the same day Bank of America indicated that it would begin returning employees to the office after Labor Day. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase updated their office-return plans last week.
"We have always said our plans to return to the office would prioritize the health and safety of our colleagues and be centered around data not dates," Citi said in an emailed statement seen by Bloomberg. "Consistent with that, we delayed our return to a number of sites across the U.S. given the health data in those locations."
At least five individual states posted record highs among new cases, CNN reported, and hospitalizations have increased in 12 states.
"None of the jobs need to be back right away," Citigroup President Jane Fraser said last week at a Bloomberg conference. Employees "will largely decide for themselves whether they want to stay at home, how they feel about their commute, what's going to happen with childcare."
Bank of America, meanwhile, said Wednesday it would begin returning employees to the office after Labor Day.
“In the U.S., as we look at the environment and follow our commitment to provide 30 days’ notice, we have decided to make it simple: returns will start after Labor Day, Sept. 7,” the bank wrote in a memo seen by Bloomberg.
Business travel is banned through Sept. 7 unless approved by a member of Bank of America’s management team. In-person events are restricted internally and externally, the memo said. Return dates will vary by role, department and location, the bank has said.
The San Francisco-based lender said last week that most of its employees will work from home through at least Sept. 7. The bank previously said most of its employees would be remote through July 31.
"We will continue with our current operating model, which includes about 200,000 employees working from home and maintaining safety measures in locations that remain open," Beth Richek, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman said Friday.
Jefferies CEO Richard Handler, too, laid out a more relaxed timeline Monday for return to the investment bank's offices. The company suffered perhaps the highest-profile loss in the financial sector from the coronavirus: Its CFO, Peg Broadbent, died of the disease in March.
"I am in awe of how our people became a virtual firm within days of learning about Covid," Handler told Bloomberg. "Our people will work from home until they feel safe coming back.
"While we all want to come back," he added, "no one is under pressure to come back immediately."
JPMorgan's New York-area corporate workers will begin heading back to offices this month, although no more than 20% will return until after Labor Day, the bank said last week, according to Bloomberg. Workers at the bank’s Columbus, Ohio, office, meanwhile, are set to gradually come back starting July 13, with an increase to as much as half-capacity by Sept. 7, according to a memo last week.
Goldman's incremental office return began in New York, Jersey City, Dallas and Salt Lake City. However, Utah and Texas are among the states hard hit by a resurgence of the virus. The bank is monitoring the situation in cities with large coronavirus outbreaks, a spokeswoman told Bloomberg. Eligible workers must submit a health questionnaire before returning to offices, according to the plan Goldman rolled out last month.