Wall Street firms set Labor Day as benchmark for return to in-office work

Many big Wall Street firms are eyeing a full return to the office after Labor Day. The companies cite the waning severity of the current COVID-19 strain and the need for employees to increase productivity that diminished amid pandemic-induced work-from-home policies, Fox Business has learned.

Fox Business first reported earlier Tuesday that Morgan Stanley would stop its COVID testing requirements and other mitigation procedures by Sept. 5, which is Labor Day, the official end of the summer on Wall Street. 

According to a companywide memo that FOX Business has reviewed, the firm also recommends that all employees return to the office, barring certain individual health situations. Morgan Stanley did not return a call for comment.

The New York Post also reported Tuesday that Goldman Sachs is taking a similar approach, lifting all COVID protocols and mandating staff return to the office full time after Labor Day.

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Meanwhile, JPMorgan employees are operating under the model laid out by CEO Jamie Dimon in his annual letter to shareholders in April. Ten percent of the workforce is allowed to work remotely full time, while half must return to the office full time, and the other 40% can split time between work and home. But sources close to the firm say it’s likely to soon force a full return to the office for its massive workforce of nearly 300,000 employees after Labor Day. A JPMorgan spokesperson declined to comment.

Speaking on a recent client call, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon insisted boosting natural gas production in the United States was not contrary to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/File Photo/Reuters Photos / Reuters Photos)

After the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, Wall Street began implementing work-from-home policies for much of its workforce, which is one of the main drivers of the New York economy. However, since the advent of the vaccines, city officials and prominent Wall Street CEOs have been trying to figure out ways to get employees to return to the office on a more permanent basis.

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Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MS MORGAN STANLEY 84.43 -0.92 -1.08%
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 114.41 +0.01 +0.01%
GS THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC. 333.66 -0.10 -0.03%

Obstacles, including new virus variants, have thwarted plans for a consistent return to the office. On top of it all, many employees began to balk at return-to-work mandates, demanding more flexible schedules and putting major firms like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan in a bind as they compete for top talent with tech companies that employ more lax office attendance policies.

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However, with declines in the stock market and a possible recession, power has begun to shift back to employers, which is one reason that headhunters speculate Wall Street is looking to mandate strict office-work policies.

Wall Street executives say layoffs could come by the end of this year or next year if business conditions continue to wane, putting pressure on employees to heed the new mandates or face firings.

“I think the CEOs are really worried … employees have become less efficient as a result of not having that discipline of working in the office,” said Gary Goldstein, founder of the Whitney Group, an executive search firm. 

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