As Covid-19 infection numbers dip, wirehouse advisors are getting a peek at what their work environments will entail for the coming months.
The U.S. had an average of 153,029 cases per day as of Monday, according to the Washington Post. That number is down from the pandemic high of 807,897, which was recorded on January 22.
Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells Fargo are laying out return-to-office routines for staffers.
Wells Fargo has set a mid-March deadline for its return to office after previously delaying the date. The wirehouse will bring most of its staff back to the office on March 14, and most of them will work on a hybrid model going forward.
For many of Wells Fargo’s roughly 12,400 advisors, the coming months will mean business as usual.
“Many of our [Wells Fargo Advisors] branch offices have been open the entire time and most have been back to full staffing for many months,” said a Wells Fargo spokesperson.
Around 100,000 of the bank’s nearly 250,000 employees have been coming to the office throughout the pandemic. All the company’s locations have been available for use by vaccinated employees on a voluntary basis.
Vaccinated Wells Fargo staff are cleared to resume client visits, travel and take part in business meetings, Reuters and Bloomberg report.
UBS continues to champion flexible working for its employees.
UBS chief executive officer Ralph Hamers has been one of the financial sector’s most vocal advocates of hybrid working. Last year, in an op-ed for Time magazine, Hamers described the pandemic as “a necessary wake-up call for the financial industry” to rethink its ways of doing business.
Employees at UBS have been equally productive, if not more so, working from home compared to the office, Hamers said in August. Citing the results of a firm-wide analysis, he said at the time that two-thirds of UBS staff could carry out their jobs from home “highly effectively.”
In June, the CEO said “[t]raders are clearly part of the 25% to one-third of the roles for which it is really difficult to work from home.” However, most of the company’s remaining roles could be hybrid. “There’s two-thirds to 75% of our roles that can be performed in a mix of working from home and working in the office,” Hamers said at the time.
Merrill Lynch says its employees are making their way back to the office.
“We are gradually returning employees to office following local data and medical expert guidance,” said a spokesperson. While Merrill Lynch does not have a vaccine mandate, the firm is “strongly encouraging” its employees to get fully vaccinated, including boosters, the spokesperson added.
Last month, the wirehouse said it will donate $100 to local food banks for every U.S. employee that either informs the bank of their vaccination booster status or gets a booster by the end of February. In all, the effort could result in $10 million in donations, the bank said at the time. The spokesperson says this builds on parent company Bank of America’s commitment to combat hunger, which has seen over $150 million donated since 2015. “[The initiative also] supports the health and safety of our employees,” the spokesperson added.
Taking into account guidance from medical and government authorities, Morgan Stanley is encouraging staff to return to the office this month. However, the firm’s return-to-office plans and timing differ by division, business, and teams, as well as by geography.
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