The City’s biggest investment banks are bracing for a widespread return to the office starting in September, even as the Delta Covid-19 variant has forced many to push their plans back to Wall Street.

Banks such as Barclays, Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley expect a wave of employees to return to their UK headquarters within the next month, according to people familiar with the matter.

The City and Canary Wharf investment banks are reopening after thousands of employees spent nearly 18 months working from home throughout the Covid-19 crisis. After a series of false starts, banks are hoping most employees will spend at least some of their time in the office starting in September.

RETURN OF THE BANKERS IN THE CITY

Between 25-35% of JP MorganThe 11,000 London workers entered the office throughout the summer, according to a person familiar with the matter, despite measures to lift the 50% cap in its UK offices from July. However, starting September 6, all staff based in England will need to spend at least some time in the office.

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Bank of America expects a widespread return to the office from mid-September, with most UK staff due to return by the end of the month, according to a person familiar with the matter.

AT Citigroup, most UK employees will spend three days a week in the office from August 31, according to people familiar with the matter, while Barclays has also asked bankers to spend more time in the office from September, according to negotiators contacted. through Financial news.

Less than 30% of Morgan stanleyUK staff entered the office, but investment bankers worked two to three days on a rotating basis throughout the summer, negotiators said. The bank will gradually increase staff from September.

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Goldman Sachs, which has lured staff with free food and ice cream in the canteen in recent months, has between 30 and 40% of its 6,000 UK employees moving into its UK headquarters at Plumtree Court. The numbers are expected to increase over the remainder of the year.

Swiss credit delayed a widespread return to its U.S. offices for unvaccinated employees by one month until October. In the UK, however, all employees will be required to spend at least part of their workweek in the office from the start of September.

WALL STREET RETURN TO WORK FAILURES

On Wall Street, where the office push bank began in June, the plans failed. Credit Suisse, Bank of Montreal, Jefferies, Perella Weinberg Partners and Wells fargo all delayed office returns for at least a month amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in New York City as the most contagious Delta variant took hold.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan stanley both mandated vaccines among their U.S. employees, but haven’t changed their plans to increase the number of employees in their New York offices. JP Morgan also kept his plans for getting Wall Street back on track.

A recent increase in UK Covid-19 cases to more than 35,000 daily infections on August 25 has yet to prompt the government to enforce more restrictions. As banks increase their staff, security measures, including the wearing of masks in common areas, have remained.

Some banking executives remain determined to bring workers back to the office en masse. Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has called working from home an “outlier” and has long pushed for a widespread return, especially for junior staff. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman have also called on staff to return, although more flexible work is likely at all three banks.

Switch to hybrid options

But some European competitors have reported a permanent change in their working practices. HSBC, Société Générale, Standard Chartered, UBS and UniCredit are among those who set up permanent hybrid work arrangements for their employees.

More than 120,000 people work in Canary Wharf, while around 374,000 are employed in the City of London in financial and professional services, but the financial centers have remained ghost towns for much of the pandemic.

READ Proof of Covid-19 jab should be required for return from office, say 43% of city staff

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair of the City of London Corporation, said FN that financial services companies think flexible working is ‘here to stay’.

“While there are clear benefits to working from home at least some of the time for many businesses and workers, central office hubs still have a crucial role to play,” she added. “Many employees themselves are eager to return to the office for at least part of the week, and their return will provide much needed footfall for the Square Mile’s hospitality and retail sectors.

A FN A July survey of 110 senior financial services executives found that the largest proportion (36%) wanted to return to the office three days a week.

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