Major US bank delays return to office due to Delta variant
US Bank told employees on Wednesday that they would no longer be expected in the office early next month due to the upsurge in Covid-19 cases.
“There is an increase in the number of cases across the world and the Delta variant has caused us to adjust our plans,” Andy Cecere, the company’s CEO, wrote in an email to employees. Bank spokesman Jeff Shelman confirmed the email, which was first reported by the Star Tribune.
US Bank, one of America’s largest banks, had planned to bring employees across the country back to their offices on September 7.
“After weighing our options, we believe the right course of action is to delay our broader return to power until the fourth quarter,” Cecere said.
Like most businesses, US Bank shifted to virtual work when the pandemic hit last year, with about 70% of the bank’s roughly 70,000 employees working remotely. US Bank said only a very small number have returned to the office in hybrid mode since then.
The change of plans by US Bank contrasts with the position of other major banks.
Representatives of JPMorgan Chase
(JMP) and Goldman Sachs
(GS) told CNN Business this week that they have not changed their back-to-office policies. Goldman Sachs
(GS) brought employees back to the office in June, while JPMorgan staff members were due to return to the office in July.
But the Delta variant might require a rethink, especially if employees report they aren’t comfortable cramming into crowded offices, subways and buses.
Other companies are adjusting their return-to-work plans. Wednesday, ViacomCBS
(VIACA) CEO Bob Bakish told employees the company had pushed back its full opening date to Oct. 18 at the earliest. The company had previously planned to fully open by September 20, according to a spokesperson, and has already been open to employees on a voluntary basis since July 6.
“We will continue to closely monitor the impacts of the Delta Variant and the response from schools, governments and other employers as we finalize our plans to return to the office,” Bakish said in a memo.
He said in part that “we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to get back to work while providing flexibility for those who need it.”
If more businesses delay reopening their offices, it would be a blow to restaurants, bars and other small businesses that had been banking on the return of office workers this fall.