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Who's working from home? Who's not?

"My wife is paranoid as hell. She doesn't want me working in the office"

If you work in the City of London or on Wall Street and you're still commuting into the office every day, you're an outlier. Goldman Sachs told most of its staff in EMEA to work from home until further notice yesterday after giving its U.S. staff the same message last week. Bank of America, which has been dragging its heels on homeworking, finally gave the signal for U.S. risk staff to work from home yesterday evening after dividing technology teams in rotating groups earlier in the week. 

But even as people across the industry settle into working alongside spouses and friends, some are still being asked to go in. When JPMorgan pressed the button on homeworking last week, it said “site-dependent” personnel like salespeople and traders were still required in the main office or back-up sites. Other banks have said much the same. Bank America especially is still understood to have staff working in its offices in London and New York. It's not clear how this will be affected by the coming London lockdown.

As we've reported before, working in the office is causing concern among some of those still expected to leave the house. And not just among the individuals themselves- among their families too. 

"My wife is paranoid as hell," says one London operations professional who's still travelling in. "She doesn't want me in the office. She think I'm going to die or something." Several respondents to our survey on COVID-19 said they're under similar pressure from their families to stop going in. "If the bank would let us work from home, my wife, kids and family as a whole would feel better," said one M&A banker at one of the few major U.S. banks whose staff are still expected at their desks. "School is cancelled, but I’ve still got to go into the office.

"It's just insanity and proves the bank really sees us as a number," he adds. "It's either that, or the fact that the bank isn't really prepared to handle all of us working at home, which is a worry."

At one bank with infected staff in New York, employees are complaining about a lack of transparency about the precise individuals who've been infected. "We know someone had it, but they won't say who," says one insider. "This person likely touched elevator buttons, turnstiles and doors, used restrooms, meeting rooms, and the cafeteria. There's been a lot of panic and we have minimum ability to chart a responsible course of action."

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ma
    18 March 2020

    Can someone tell me why trading and sales is site dependent? We have moved on from open outcry, transactions are processed electronically. We have phone and chat rooms to communicate. We have massive TV screens, personnal computers are fast. Why the hell do we absolutrly need traders and sales to be physically in an office? We are able to send people to the moon and robots to Mars but we still need traders and sales to be sat in an office for the trading operations to work? If it is a matter of regulation, surely the regulator can make an exception given the circumstances? If it's a matter of operational risk why don't banks provide emergency training and procedures to staff to ensure working from home goes smooth?!

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