Factbox-Global big banks plot back-to-office plans as vaccines roll out

Wells Fargo Bank branch is seen in New York
FILE PHOTO: Wells Fargo Bank branch is seen in New York City, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

August 18, 2021

(Reuters) -The biggest banks in the world plan to re-open their offices, emboldened by aggressive vaccination drives and falling COVID-19 cases in major financial hubs, after sending most employees home early last year to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 Delta variant’s spread is prompting some firms to rethink their back-to-office plans, but many of Wall Street’s biggest banks are sticking to their decision to bring back employees.

Here is the state of play with back-to-office plans in various regions:

UNITED STATES

Wells Fargo & Co

The bank pushed back its U.S. return-to-office date to October from an earlier target of Sept. 7.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc

The bank planned to bring U.S. employees back to the office by mid-June.

JPMorgan Chase & Co

The largest U.S. bank has brought back employees in the United States to the office on a rotational basis from July.

Citigroup Inc

CEO Jane Fraser said in a memo in March that post-pandemic, most of the employees would be able to work in a “hybrid” setting, allowing them to work from home for up to two days a week.

Morgan Stanley

The bank’s chief executive officer, James Gorman, said if most employees are not back to work at the bank’s Manhattan headquarters in September, he will be “very disappointed”.

Gorman said his bank’s policy will vary by location, noting the firm’s 2,000 employees in India will not return to offices this year.

Bank of America Corp

The bank will only allow vaccinated staff to return to its offices in early September, while encouraging other employees to get inoculated.

UNITED KINGDOM

Barclays

CEO Jes Staley has said the bank will adopt a hybrid working model and will reduce its real estate footprint but maintain its main offices in London and New York.

HSBC Holdings

HSBC has adopted a new hybrid working model, with a 10% reduction in its global real estate footprint since the start of 2020.

HSBC has said it plans to cut its global office footprint by around 40%. The lender moved 1,200 call center staff in Britain to permanent home working contracts, Reuters reported in April, going further than some rivals in cementing changes to working patterns.

Lloyds Banking Group

Britain’s biggest domestic bank expects there will be three ways of working – at home, in the office, or a combination of the two – from October.

The lender has said it plans to cut 20% of its office space over two years.

Standard Chartered

StanChart said it will make permanent the flexible working arrangements introduced during the pandemic, and that it could cut a third of its office space in the next three to four years.

Nine of the bank’s markets, including the UK, have been on flexible working contracts for a few months.

NatWest

CEO Alison Rose has said the bank is likely to adopt a hybrid working model, but has stressed offices will remain important as a place to bring people together to collaborate.

The bank will adopt its new ways of working over the summer, with the majority of staff in England and Wales expected to be back in the office from September, dependent on government and public health advice, a spokesperson said.

GERMANY

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank in London had plans to bring more staff back from June 21, assuming the city’s lockdown restrictions were loosened, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Germany’s largest lender has also told its U.S. investment bankers that it expects them to resume working from office no later than Labor Day, according to a memo seen by Reuters. The bank earlier said it was following a regional approach to the pandemic and return to the office issues, reflecting the different situations in individual countries.

SWITZERLAND

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse in July 2020 launched a global program evaluating various work-from-home options. It has been monitoring and adapting work arrangements since launching work-from-home globally in March 2020, taking into account local guidelines.

UBS

UBS Chairman Axel Weber in May said flexibility would remain part of work arrangements at Switzerland’s biggest bank going forward, where roles allow. Return-to-office plans vary from region to region, in accordance with local government guidelines.

CANADA

Bank of Canada

The central bank will allow most of its staff to remotely clock in as much as half of their working hours once public health guidelines allow it to fully reopen offices, a spokesperson said.

The bank expects to bring back many employees after summer, but it does not see conditions returning to normal until 2022, according to a Bloomberg News report. https://bloom.bg/3kL8Dj2

Royal Bank of Canada

The country’s largest lender, is exploring a flexible and hybrid work arrangement to bring its employees back to the office, Chief Executive Officer David McKay said.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CIBC plans to begin a phased return to office starting this fall for employees who have been working remotely.

For a small number of staff, the move back could start in September, while for others, returns will be staggered from October into the first quarter of next year, a spokesperson said.

Source: Company statements, memo, sources

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain, Niket Nishant and Sohini Podder in Bengaluru, Iain Withers and Lawrence White in London, Tom Sims in Frankfurt and Oliver Hirt in Zurich, and Matt Scuffham and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall in New York, Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Ramakrishnan M. and Shinjini Ganguli)