JPMorgan asks City staff to start trek back to the office from 21 June

JPMorgan will ramp up employee numbers within its England offices from 21 June, asking all its City staff to prepare for a return as the government looks to reopen the country amid a high level of Covid-19 vaccinations and a drop off in virus cases.

The US bank will cap staff numbers at about 50% of headcount across its offices in London and Bournemouth, according to an 11 May memo to staff seen by Financial News, but all employees will be expected to come back. Scotland return dates will be announced later.

“We understand that many of you will need to make adjustments in your lives that may take some time to arrange, so this transition will be managed gradually at first,” the memo said. “However, we expect in the weeks that follow that June date, all employees in England will be in the office on a consistent schedule, as agreed with your respective management teams.”

Around 20-25% of JPMorgan’s some 19,000 UK-based employees have been returning to the office on a rotational schedule since the countrywide lockdown advising staff to work from home started to be eased on 29 March. The UK government is slowly dismantling its third nationwide lockdown, with the last step of the four-stage roadmap set to lift on 21 June.

“All employees in England will be in the office on a consistent schedule, as agreed with your respective management teams”

READ Jamie Dimon is about to cancel all his Zoom meetings

JPMorgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon has already told the bank’s entire US workforce that they should come back to the office during the summer and that it would “fully expect that by early July, all US-based employees will be in the office on a consistent rotational schedule”.

Dimon told a Wall Street Journal conference on 4 May that he was cancelling all his Zoom meetings and encouraged the bank’s staff to return to the office. He said the benefits of home-based work were wearing thin.

“It doesn’t work for younger people, it doesn’t work for those who want to hustle, it doesn’t work for spontaneous idea generation,” he said.

In the memo to UK staff from its Return to the Office Task Force, JPMorgan said it would “strongly encourage you to get vaccinated” and that it would reopen all office amenities including its cafeterias while maintaining a cap of 50% on staff numbers.

“Nearly half of you have already been back in our buildings at various points over the last year or so, most essential workers have been permanently based there, and many people have joined the firm having never been to our offices before,” the memo said. “No matter what your circumstance, we want all of you to get comfortable with being in an office environment once again.”

“We firmly believe that working together in person benefits our culture, creativity and sense of community over the long term,” it added.

US investment banks have been more forthright in seeking a return to pre-crisis working practices as pandemic-induced restrictions begin to be lifted. JPMorgan’s move to reopen its offices in England follow a similar move from Wall Street rival Goldman Sachs last week.

Goldman told UK employees on 4 May that they should “make plans to be in a position to return to the office” by 21 June, and will ramp up numbers in the US a week earlier.

READ Goldman Sachs to ramp up UK staff at Plumtree Court HQ from 21 June

By contrast, European rivals including Societe Generale, HSBC and Deutsche Bank are set to keep more employees away from the office, even as Covid-19 restrictions lift.

SocGen will offer its employees the chance to work from home for up to three days a week, its chief executive Frédéric Oudéa told the Financial Times.

UK lender HSBC is rolling out a ‘hybrid’ model and will cut up to 40% of its real estate costs as more employees stay away from the office.

Deutsche Bank’s UK and Ireland chief executive, Tiina Lee told Financial News in December that up to 80% of its staff in the country could work from home for up to two days a week after the pandemic.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke