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: Wall Street returns to the trading floor


Workers at Wall Street’s major banks returned to the office this week after the Omicron variant drove people back from remote locations in mid-December.

Jefferies Financial Group Inc. JEF, +0.49% and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, -0.27% workers led the migration on Monday and Tuesday to dust off their desks.

“We returned to our hybrid work model this week with the majority of our employees back in the office,” a Jefferies spokesperson said in an email to MarketWatch.

Jefferies CEO Rich Handler even sweetened the deal by taking to his Instagram account with an offer buy dinner for the initial seven takers under 30 if they had been to the office on Monday, a spokesperson for the bank said.

See: U.S. COVID death toll tops fall peak and is higher than in other wealthy countries, as global deaths climb 9% in latest week

Handler and Jefferies President Brain Friedman shared the firm’s hybrid work policy with employees last month in a post to their website entitled, “Walk with a bounce in your step and a smile on your face, but don’t run.”

“We will be aspiring to operate as we were in the post-October period: remaining careful at all times, embracing a hybrid WFH mode/option,” the message said.

Jefferies said it would require proof of vaccination, a booster shot and mask wearing in common areas, with a limit of 10 people in internal meetings. Client entertainment will resume on Feb. 7 for group of up to 10 people.

A spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, -0.27% said the bank asked workers to return to the bank on Tuesday.

A person familiar with Bank of America Corp. BAC, -0.11% said the company is gradually returning employees to the office and following local data and medical expert guidance.

Bank of America does not have a vaccine mandate, but it strongly encourages employees to get fully vaccinated, including booster, the person said.

A JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.80% spokesman said employees have started assuming a “more normal in-office schedule” this week. The spokesperson did not provide a percentage of workers that have returned because “it varies by job, business and function,”

Some JPMorgan employees are working five days a week, while others are in 50% due to occupancy limits.

“Some teams are piloting hybrid schedules, and we are testing the effectiveness of these models,” the spokesperson said.

Spokespeople from Citigroup C, -0.50% and Morgan Stanley MS, -0.03% did not comment.

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser last March led the company to became arguably the first major bank to embrace office flexibility.

In mid-December, Citi told New York–area employees in a memo that, “Given the current situation, if you’re able to work from home now through the holidays, please feel free to speak to your manager about doing so.”

The memo went on to read: “Like all of you, we hoped that Covid would be behind us by now, but greatly appreciate your adaptability, support for your colleagues and continued adherence to our safety measures.” 

Also Read: Wall Street taps brakes on the back-to-the-office bus, at least through the holidays

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