Wall Street Tries Fighting Virus With Staggered Office Plans
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Some of Wall Street’s biggest firms are trying out a plan for fighting the spread of the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus: staggering their employees’ visits to the office.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. andGoldman Sachs Group Inc. are among the firms telling their employees to work from home in staggered shifts. JPMorgan will split New York staffers into two groups, with one working from home while the other is in the office, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The groups will rotate after a week. Goldman is tryingsomething similar, with its two teams dubbed blue and white in a nod to the colors of the firm’s logo.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview on CNN Wednesday he would ask businesses to voluntarily consider staggering shifts for employees and letting them telecommute. New York cases jumped to 216 after not having a single case less than two weeks ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
JPMorgan has about 37,000 employees in the New York metro area, which includes New Jersey, around half of whom are branch employees unaffected by the work-from-home plans. Workers in the first staggered group will telecommute through March 20 and return to the office March 23, according to the person.
At Goldman Sachs, the plans for a split workforce go well beyond New York, reaching across the Americas and the region covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The two teams will start taking turns next week, the New York-based bank said Thursday in an internal memo. The new measures supplement similar steps Goldman Sachs already took in the Asia-Pacific region, where the coronavirus began.
“The course of the virus remains uncertain, and circumstances will continue to change,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer David Solomon, President John Waldron and Chief Financial Officer Stephen Scherr said in the memo. “As we move forward, we are very conscious that adapting our routines on a global scale represents a significant change for all of us in how we work, interact with each other and serve our clients.”
Morgan Stanley asked employees to work from home as long as their jobs don’t require them to be in an office, with some businesses splitting staff into teams that will rotate working from the office and working remotely. The plan will allow the bank to keep serving clients if the outbreak escalates and reduces health risks associated with contact between workers, Morgan Stanley told employees Thursday.
BlackRock Inc. said Thursday it will split its staff into two teams in all offices in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The plan, which will alternate groups working from home, starts Monday and runs four weeks, the company said in a statement.
Other companies making or considering similar moves includePrudential Financial Inc., which is encouraging staff to work from home and considering staggering groups of employees who come into the office for certain functions, andDeutsche Bank AG, which has split teams into groups and sentthousands of employees to work from home or one of the firm’s recovery sites.MetLife Inc. is testing its employees’ abilities to work from home as some prepare to move tostaggered shifts.
On Wednesday,Citigroup Inc. begansplitting up its thousands of New York-based employees, with half of its workforce sent to work from home or redundancy sites. Where employees are sent depends on their roles. Staff in the trading division, for instance, are working from a backup site in Rutherford, New Jersey, and half of those handling back-office functions for the consumer division, meanwhile, are working from home. The bank has made similar moves for its business in Asia.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and urged governments to step up containment efforts. The number of cases worldwide has topped 127,000 and deaths have exceeded 4,700.
— With assistance by Jennifer Surane, Lananh Nguyen, and Sridhar Natarajan
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