City goes back to the office in EIGHT days: US banks in first wave of firms letting some workers return as stay at home rule is dropped
- Several banks contacted said they are preparing to open offices again as soon as March 29
- Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among those paving the way for workers to begin to return
- It is understood that bankers have had concerns about whether they could be penalised by the Government for bringing more staff back to the office so soon
US Investment banks are planning to lead the charge back to the office as the first wave of City workers get ready to return to work.
Several banks contacted by The Mail on Sunday said they were preparing to open their offices again as soon as March 29 – in eight days’ time.
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among those paving the way for workers to begin to return.
Back to work: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among those paving the way for workers to begin to return
JP Morgan will allow staff to go back to their offices a week from tomorrow. The US banking giant, which has 19,000 employees in the UK, will tell heads of business divisions that they can inform staff about returning to the office if their workers wish to do so.
Rival Goldman Sachs – whose boss David Solomon has attracted criticism for describing working from home as an ‘aberration’ – is planning to tell its 6,000 UK staff that they can start to return after Easter – just a fortnight away.
It is understood that bankers have had concerns about whether they could be penalised by the Government for bringing more staff back to the office so soon.
Only some key traders and staff who have not been able to work from home have been allowed in up until now.
One banker said the Government gave ‘a nod and a wink’ that they will not be punished for allowing staff to return.
The Government’s ‘stay at home’ rule will end on March 29. Official advice calls for people to continue to work from home where they can.
Swiss giant Credit Suisse is understood to be planning to bring back more staff from April 12. One trader at BNP Paribas said they were returning on March 29, although it is understood the French bank is not yet calling staff back.
Meanwhile, other City giants have quietly warned against bringing back staff too quickly. Companies that lure workers back too soon could face a backlash from employees who have not been vaccinated or from those who do not yet feel safe using public transport.
Goldman Sachs is feeling the heat after junior bankers in the US complained of ‘sleep deprivation’ and workplace ‘abuse’ while working 100-hour weeks.
Some City firms have yet to crystallise plans and many are thought to be expecting a slower return to the office.
A source close to US investment bank Morgan Stanley said he is expecting a more ‘pronounced’ return in the summer.
It has emerged that Lloyds Banking Group has pushed back plans to return in spring until the summer.
The lender, which employs 65,000 people in the UK, is drawing up trials to see how the bank will work in the future.
A survey conducted last year by a union found that two fifths of Lloyds staff do not want to return to the workplace.
Accountancy firm KPMG has sent a survey to staff to ask how they want to work in the future and whether they would prefer to work closer to home rather than commute to a City office.
A bigger shift to more flexible working deals a huge blow to local cafes, restaurants and pubs, which rely on commuters.
A number of City firms have already said they will slash office space. Insurance giant Aviva will cut a third of its office capacity this year and is on the hunt for a smaller headquarters once its current lease expires in 2024.
HSBC said it will slash 40 per cent of its offices around the world, while Lloyds said it will cut office space by a fifth in the next two years.
Many firms are still drawing up flexible working plans that will see employees come into the office for two or three days a week, while working from home for the remainder.
Fund group Jupiter is understood to have told staff that they can return to their offices for three days a week from May 17.
A new study has revealed a gap between business owners and employees’ attitudes to returning to work.
Research showed a third of small to medium-sized business owners expect staff to come back full time when lockdown ends in June – double the figure for employees, at 16 per cent, in a survey conducted on behalf of testing firm Cignpost ExpressTest.
The research showed 38 per cent of 1,100 employees do not expect to return to the office for the foreseeable future with a further 20 per cent anticipating returning only after the entire workforce has been vaccinated.
By contrast, 51 per cent of employers questioned said they expect those who have been vaccinated to return to the office immediately.