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JPMorgan: All U.S. Employees to Return to the Office By July

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What You Need to Know

  • JPMorgan expects all U.S. employees to return to their offices by early July on a rotational basis.
  • BofA CEO Brian Moynihan expects all of his firm's staff to return after Labor Day.
  • Other firms' timetables for the return of everybody to their offices are more vague.

All of JPMorgan’s advisors, brokers and other U.S. employees are expected to return to their offices by early July, although the return will occur in hybrid format, with all employees to be on a rotational schedule and subject to the firm’s current 50% occupancy cap, the firm said in a memo to employees.

The news, initially reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday, did not exactly come as a surprise. Jamie Dimon, CEO and chairman of JPMorgan, pointed out in his letter to shareholders on April 7 that most of his firm’s employees will be returning to the office at some point, although he didn’t provide a specific time frame.

“Throughout the pandemic, our buildings and branches in the U.S. have remained open and have safely operated for our essential employees, to whom we remain incredibly grateful,” JPMorgan said in the memo.

“As the U.S. surpasses its goal of more than 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations administered and more cities and states lift restrictions, we will open our U.S. offices to all employees on Monday, May 17 subject to our current 50% occupancy cap,” the firm said.

That cap will remain in place “at least until” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “revises its social distancing guidelines,” according to JPMorgan.

The May scheduling is being done so employees “can get comfortable with being back in an office environment,” the firm explained, adding: “Understanding that this may take some time, we would fully expect that by early July, all U.S.-based employees will be in the office on a consistent rotational schedule, also subject to our current 50% occupancy cap.”

Therefore, JPMorgan employees should “start making any needed arrangements to help with your successful return,” it advised. “Each line of business will work with their managers and location leaders to determine an appropriate schedule. Our branches and offices outside of the U.S. will continue to follow their established processes.”

In addition to the occupancy cap and rotational schedule, the firm will continue to “follow all government restrictions and mandates and be prepared to pause or reverse your return if needed,” it said. JPMorgan will also continue to follow its own health and safety protocols and “provide information and resources to help you get vaccinated because we know that getting vaccinated means less risk of spreading the virus to our families, friends and colleagues,” it said.

“More details on returning to the office will be provided in the coming days and weeks to help you prepare,” the company added.

BofA Expects Phased Return

Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch parent Bank of America continues to make plans for company employees “who are currently working from home to return to the office,” according to BofA CEO Brian Moynihan.

“We will do so on a business-by-business, market-by-market, office-by-office basis driven by our health and safety framework,” he said April 20 during the company’s annual meeting of shareholders.

“Provided that we continue to see the trends we’re seeing today, our expectation in the U.S. is we’ll be back — generally back towards a more normal operating posture as we move past Labor Day,” he said. “In other areas around the world it’s different. Of course, the health and safety of our team remains a top priority as we make plans to return to office and we’ll continue to monitor and adjust our plans as needed.”

He went on to say, during the Q&A: “We are a work-from-office company. We’ve been clear with that. We have always had a work-from-home program … but it requires great discipline to execute on that appropriately.”

Therefore, the plan is for everybody to return to offices after Labor Day, “as long as the virus and vaccine paths stay steady,” he added.

The firm’s plans are for “employees to return to their offices in phases, depending on employees’ roles and local health guidelines, a company spokeswoman told ThinkAdvisor on Friday.

“We will give employees notice about their scheduled return to the office at least 30 days ahead of time, and plan to follow all appropriate health and safety procedures and protocols,” she said.

Goldman Sachs Plans

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon was more vague on the timetable for all of his firm’s employees to return to the office during that firm’s recent earnings call.

“For Goldman Sachs, our people operate at their best when they are forging close bonds with colleagues and furthering the apprenticeship culture that has defined us,” he told analysts. “We have found the best way to do that is to work together in person on a regular basis.”

He stressed that “achieving the objective of bringing our colleagues back to the office is not inconsistent with the desire to provide our people with the flexibility they need to manage their personal and professional lives which is the way we have always run this firm.”

Based on what has been seen in the past year, he said: “I’m more confident than ever in our ability to facilitate this approach going forward.”

Many of the firm’s employees have already returned to their offices. “Over the course of the past few months, we have been welcoming thousands of colleagues back to the office in a manner consistent with safety guidelines in each city in which we operate,” Solomon said.

The company “implemented testing and other protocols across our offices to make for a safer work environment and to provide those returning to the office with a sense of confidence in the return,” he pointed out. “Importantly, I look forward to increasing number of employees returning as vaccination programs around the world expand and we welcome new joiners to the firm’s offices this summer.”

Other Firms’ Plans

Speaking at Ameriprise’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday,  Jim Cracchiolo, its CEO and chairman, said: “While we’ve operated extremely well working virtually, we’re looking forward to working together in-person again. As conditions continue to improve with the vaccine roll-out and with many states lifting restrictions, we’re planning to transition more of our employees back to the office over the balance of” 2021.

“The health and safety of our employees and clients is priority” for Wells Fargo, a spokeswoman for that company told ThinkAdvisor on Monday. “We will soon allow advisors in Wealth & Investment Management (WIM) to voluntarily return to a Wells Fargo Advisors (WFA) branch or wealth hub location, up to the capacity set by local ordinances but not exceeding 40%,” she said.

Wells Fargo “previously allowed no more than 20% of any location’s employees to be in a branch or hub location at the same time,” she said, adding: “Safety measures continue, including facial covering requirements, reconfigured office space, and employee health screenings.”

Raymond James, meanwhile, has been “discussing return-to-office and mobility with advisors and associates,” a spokeswoman for that company told ThinkAdvisor on Friday. She added: “We have not yet established specific timelines, but associate, advisor and client safety and CDC guidelines will continue to guide any practices and plans.”

Like JPMorgan’s Dimon, Ronald Kruszewski, Stifel CEO and chairman, commented on the subject in his letter to shareholders last month but didn’t provide any specifics on a return-to-office time frame.

“There is no doubt in my mind about the importance of physically working together,” he said. “The benefits are clear — in training, collaborating, innovating, networking, and more. It is simply the best way to continue to build on our culture.”

Noting that as he was writing the letter the U.S. was “in the process of vaccination,” he went on to say: “I can see life returning to some normalcy, although not yet to completely pre-pandemic conditions. For Stifel, this will include a return to our offices. Rest assured, I am committed to ensuring that this occurs in a safe and fair manner.”