Wells Fargo is setting its sights on a September office return, CEO Charlie Scharf and Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell told employees in a memo Tuesday.
“We are encouraged by the significant increase in vaccination availability and have started to plan for a return to a more normal operating model in September, soon after the Labor Day holiday in the U.S.,” Scharf and Powell wrote, according to Bloomberg.
But Scharf and Powell gave the bank wiggle room, saying the return plan may change if the coronavirus caseload spikes or vaccination rates stall.
“We know you have many questions about what this means for you,” Scharf and Powell wrote, according to Bloomberg. “We will be candid: We don’t have the answers yet. We will spend the next several weeks and months developing them, and we will share our progress along the way.”
It would mark the second straight year the bank has used Labor Day as a benchmark for office returns. Several other banks, such as Capital One and Bank of America, last year hung their hopes on a return after the late-summer holiday.
Bank of America, too, revealed a piece of its office-return strategy Tuesday, saying the bank aims to have the 1,800 graduates it hires from its college pipeline working in the office by October. The bank said, however, that training and orientation for those hires will be virtual beginning in July.
Local health conditions will dictate the feasibility of in-office work, the bank said. “We will notify you of our final plans well in advance, and provide at least one week for you to relocate as needed,” Bank of America wrote in an email to new hires seen by Bloomberg.
Bank of America’s plan surfaced a day after Goldman Sachs told its summer interns in an email later posted to the bank’s blog that they are welcome in person if they can travel safely to their assigned office. Interns' one-week training program, however, will be virtual, Goldman said.
The bank's CEO, David Solomon, has long used the prospect of a second straight summer of virtual internships as a push to reopen the office. "Getting them in to the office is the best way to get them connected to Goldman Sachs," Solomon told employees over Zoom this month — weeks after calling the extended remote-work situation an “aberration” and expressing frustration at the pace of vaccination.
His bank struck a markedly different tone Monday. “We are encouraged by the progress of vaccine rollouts across the globe and there is a growing sense of optimism to work together in the office regularly again, where safe to do so,” Goldman Sachs’s campus recruiting unit wrote Monday. “Ours is a collaborative, innovative and apprenticeship based culture — there are many ways to experience that but we found that the most enriching way to do that is in-person together.”
Wells Fargo, for its part, did not say whether its office return would be full time or hybrid. Citi CEO Jane Fraser last week wrote in an internal memo that most of that bank’s employees would work at least three days a week from the office and as many as two remotely.
Scharf and Powell did say, however, they are “encouraged by the significant increase in vaccination availability” and touted the value of “being physically together,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Being pulled into meetings, learning from seeing how others work, and the often unplanned, casual interactions that occur when people see each other in the workplace can be really important,” they said in Tuesday’s memo.