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Finance Sector Grapples With COVID-19 Cases Among Traders While Attempting Return to Office

  • Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase send some in-office traders home after employees test positive for COVID-19
  • Cases emerge as banks make efforts to bring more employees back to the office this month
  • Finance industry has taken a mixed approach to remote work, with some banks allowing employees to continue working from home until next year

A series of positive COVID-19 tests emphasizes the challenge the finance industry faces in returning its workers to the office, even as some large banks attempt to wind down their remote work operations.

It was reported on Sept. 15 that JPMorgan Chase was sending some Manhattan workers home, just days ahead of a scheduled large-scale return of workers, after an equities trading employee tested positive for the virus. This news was soon followed by reports that Goldman Sachs was taking similar precautions after at least one employee contracted COVID-19 and that Barclays sent some staff home after two London employees tested positive.

JPMorgan previously announced that it intends to introduce a rotational model where employees cycle between the office and remote work, but earlier this month announced that it would be returning its sales and trading staff to the office on Sept. 21. The company said the decision was motivated by a need for in-office interaction to spur creativity as well as a drop in productivity across the board, particularly on Mondays and Fridays.

Goldman also said it would adopt a rotational approach to returning workers to the office. Barclays returned 700 staffers to its offices globally in July, with remaining workers set to continue working remotely until the end of September.

The finance sector has been somewhat warier of having its employees work from home, with one survey finding that only about one in four were considering maintaining a remote work option long-term. However, some banks have been more accepting of the model. For example, Deutsche Bank is allowing its U.S. staff to continue working from home until July 2021.

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