Wall Street hits pause on returning to the office.

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Wall Street banks have mostly taken a tough line on return-to-office plans, with many top bosses working from their desks for months and urging reluctant employees to do the same.

They have changed their tunes, for now.

With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus raging, Bank of America this week told employees in its New York City corporate offices that they can work from home during the holidays, according to a memo to staff. The bank, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., but maintains a massive office in midtown Manhattan, is also providing self-test kits and will host booster clinics in some locations across the country come January.

At Deutsche Bank, New York staff have been encouraged to work from home for the last two weeks of the year, according to an executive who asked not to be identified discussing personnel matters. They will probably continue to work remotely for several weeks into 2022, given the surge in cases, the person said.

Jefferies, an investment bank in Manhattan, sent its employees back home earlier this month as cases jumped. Rich Handler, the firm’s chief executive, later said on Twitter that he had tested positive and was self-quarantining. Jefferies was the first Wall Street firm to report a senior casualty during the pandemic: Peg Broadbent, the chief financial officer, died from complications of the coronavirus in March 2020.

Wells Fargo also has postponed its return-to-office plans, citing the “changing external environment” in a memo to staff. “Close to 100,000 employees have been coming into a Wells Fargo location throughout the pandemic and all locations continue to be available for use by vaccinated employees on a voluntary basis,” the bank said.

JPMorgan has told its U.S. employees who do not work in bank branches that “each group should assess who needs to come into the office” and “who should revert to working from home on a more regular basis over the next few weeks.”

Citigroup, which had called people back two days a week starting in September, is giving its New York and New Jersey staff the option to work remotely, and Morgan Stanley employees also have been given more flexibility to stay home. And Goldman Sachs has told its teams to postpone their remaining holiday parties.



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