UPDATE: Sept. 18, 2020: Goldman Sachs sent some traders home from its Manhattan headquarters after at least one employee tested COVID-positive, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources.
The quarantine affected a select group directly exposed to the infected worker, the sources said, adding the incident won't delay the bank's plan to start returning employees in most divisions to the office in October on week-in, week-out rotational shifts.
"Our people's safety is our first priority, and we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure our workplaces remain safe for those who choose to return," Goldman Sachs spokeswoman Leslie Shribman said in a statement Thursday, according to Bloomberg.
The bank has changed the way it shares information on new COVID-19 cases, communicating only with staff that have been in proximity to workers who have tested positive, the sources said.
- JPMorgan Chase sent some of its New York staff home this week after an equities trading worker tested positive for COVID-19, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing an anonymous source.
- The case came just four days after the bank told managing and executive directors in sales and trading that they and their teams must return to the office Sept. 21.
- The bank's CEO, Jamie Dimon, said earlier Tuesday that the bank has seen "alienation" among younger workers, adding he's concerned about "a lot more damage by people staying home" in broader society.
JPMorgan Chase is not the only bank looking to ramp up its office presence now that Labor Day has passed. Citi last week circulated a survey to its employees in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, gauging interest in returning to the office Oct. 5. The bank would initially cap daily attendance at 30%, a source told Bloomberg, and managers won't pressure employees if that threshold isn't met.
JPMorgan is taking a more aggressive stance, aiming for 50% office capacity in New York in the coming weeks.
This week's COVID-19 case was found on the fifth floor of JPMorgan's temporary headquarters at 383 Madison Ave., a source told Bloomberg, the same site where 16 people tested positive for the virus in April.
The bank communicated news of the case to employees Sunday, Bloomberg reported. A JPMorgan Chase spokesman told the news service he couldn't comment on any one case, but said the bank has been "managing individual cases across the firm over the course of the last few months and following appropriate protocols when they occur."
Dimon appeared Tuesday on a virtual panel discussion at the Singapore Summit, saying offices should "carefully open up and see if we can get the economy growing for the sake of everybody."
"There will be permanent changes from [the outbreak]," Dimon said, according to Bloomberg. But "we're saying these places are clean. We've got social distancing."
Dimon told analysts from Keefe, Bruyette & Woods a slip in productivity — particularly on Mondays and Fridays — combined with the concern that remote work is no substitute for organic interaction — led JPMorgan Chase to call some units back to the office.
"The [work-from-home] lifestyle seems to have impacted younger employees, and overall productivity and 'creative combustion' has taken a hit," KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a note to clients Sunday. "Overall, Jamie thinks a shift back to the office will be good for the young employees and to foster creative ideas."
JPMorgan Chase clarified in an email to Bloomberg the dip in productivity came from "employees in general, not just younger employees," bank spokesman Michael Fusco wrote, adding that younger workers "could be disadvantaged by missed learning opportunities" if remote work continues.
Dimon expounded on the social value of work Tuesday at the summit.
"Going back to work is a good thing," said Dimon, who reportedly has been going back into the office since June. "You can create more deaths from depression, overdose if we're not real careful and manage those things." He added that social problems can compound "if we have another downturn."
Not every bank is as eager to return to the office. Wells Fargo has delayed its return timeline several times — most recently, to Nov. 1. TD postponed its return until the new year. Truist went even further — to Jan. 31, 2021.