JP Morgan Chase has joined the likes of Netflix and Bank of America in announcing it wants its US employees to return to the office.
In an internal memo, the investment bank announced that its US offices will be open to all employees from 17 May – to allow them to get reacquainted with office life – and then an official rotation schedule will begin in early July.
The move has been linked to the US administering more than 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, but vaccines will not be mandatory for those returning to the office.
In the memo, which has been shared by CNBC, the bank wrote: “We would fully expect that by early July, all US-based employees will be in the office on a consistent rotational schedule, also subject to our current 50% occupancy cap.
“With this timeframe in mind you should start making any needed arrangements to help with your successful return.”
The bank noted that further details of the office return will be provided in coming weeks and that employees should start discussing the return with their managers.
JP Morgan staff have also been returning to the London office. City AM reported that around 15% of its London staff have returned to the office, but this seems to be out of their own volition, rather than a mandate from the leadership team.
JP Morgan vs remote working
Like Goldman Sach’s David Solomon, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has not hidden his dislike for remote working.
In a September call with analysts, Dimon noted how employee productivity seemed to be declining while working from home. He was particularly concerned about remote working’s impact on younger workers, and the impact on potential learning opportunities.
Then in his annual letter to shareholders, which was published earlier in April, Dimon laid out both the advantages and disadvantages of remote working for the investment bank.
He stated that it “was amazing how quickly we were able to set up the technology…to enable our employees to work from home.
“We learned that we could function virtually with Zoom and Cisco and maintain productivity, at least in the short run.”
Despite this, “we envision a model that will find many employees working in a location full time” – but they will be doing so in a very different office space – one that is open plan and leverages digital tools to manage seating arrangements and amenities use.
While some JP Morgan employees may be able to work in a hybrid model, only around 10% in very specific roles would be allowed to work remotely full time, according to Dimon.
JP Morgan’s move is linked to the negatives Dimon associates with remote working.
In his letter to shareholders, he wrote: “most professionals learn their job through an apprenticeship model, which is almost impossible to replicate in the Zoom world”, which could have an impact on the bank’s working culture.
Dimon also stated, “a heavy reliance on Zoom meetings actually slows down decision making because there is little immediate follow-up” and that “remote work virtually eliminates spontaneous learning and creativity because you don’t run into people at the coffee machine, talk with clients in unplanned scenarios, or travel to meet with customers and employees for feedback on your products and services.”
Dimon and JP Morgan’s attitude towards remote working is the polar opposite to the views of most companies, including banks, who envision that hybrid working, rather than in-office working, will be the dominant working arrangement in the future of work.
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