- Goldman Sachs employees will start returning to the bank's U.S. offices June 22, company leaders told staff Wednesday in a statement posted online, according to Bloomberg.
- The incremental rollout will begin in New York, Jersey City, Dallas and Salt Lake City offices. Eligible workers will be — or have been — notified in advance. They must submit a health questionnaire before returning. The timing for other U.S. offices remains uncertain.
- "Rest assured, returning is entirely voluntary," CEO David Solomon and other executives wrote in the memo. "Everyone is encouraged to adopt an approach that works for them and their own personal circumstances, which might make a return to office challenging at this time."
The timetable for returning to the office after the first wave in the coronavirus pandemic varies from bank to bank. Goldman joins Morgan Stanley among financial institutions planning to return to New York offices in mid- to late June.
Other banks are hedging on the side of caution. Citi CEO Michael Corbat said last month he hopes to return about 5% of headquarters employees in July. Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank wrote in an early May memo that the bank’s U.S., U.K. and Canada offices would be closed to non-essential personnel until at least Labor Day. Similarly, Canada’s six largest banks, including TD, pledged to keep their employees out of downtown Toronto until at least September.
A commonality among most banks' plans to return is that fewer employees — at least, at first — would be working from the office. JPMorgan Chase Co-President Daniel Pinto said last month that some of the bank's staff could work from home on a rotational basis more permanently. Similarly, BNY Mellon CEO Todd Gibbons told an investor conference last month that the bank may encourage some of its staff to work from home more often after the pandemic’s first wave clears.
One scenario under discussion at Goldman this spring involved a gradual return that would start with 20% of employees in the office, then 30%, 40% and 50%, Bloomberg reported.
And there was a laundry list of logistical issues to work out. "Do people get tested, do they get antibodies?" Ashok Varadhan, Goldman's global co-head of trading, said in a podcast in April. "Will everyone be wearing masks? Will we be taking people's temperature when they come in? The trading floor has historically been packed in pretty tight, call it 3 feet between people. Do we need to make it 6 feet or maybe more?"
Goldman also was reportedly exploring contactless door opening, possibly through setting out towelettes that can be used to touch handles and then discarded upon exit or entrance.
The bank invited some Europe-based employees to return to their offices last month. More of its employees are slated to return to London offices Monday. And the bank expects "to review our return to office process toward the end of June" for staff based in Bengaluru, India, executives wrote Wednesday.