American Express Co. is the latest employer moving to a hybrid work model post-coronavirus pandemic.
In an internal memo, Stephen J. Squeri, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, said the new model will allow most employees to work three days in the office and two days in a location of their choice. While individual markets will determine which three days of the week will be designated in-office days, he said these will likely be Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for a large percentage of employees.
And while remote and hybrid working arrangements established pre-pandemic will continue as normal, employees who can’t perform their jobs effectively from home will be required to work in an office. “We’ll ease colleagues into our new way of working, see what works and what doesn’t, listen to feedback and adjust as necessary to meet the needs of our customers, our business and our colleagues.”
Squeri said the company plans to gradually roll out the new model in September starting in the U.K. and U.S., pending the lifting of local pandemic restrictions. Employees will be given a minimum of 60 days advance notice before the model is implemented in their market. In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, Jessica Myers, a spokesperson for American Express Canada, said the company hasn’t yet released details on the model’s launch in Canada.
In May, Google and IBM Corp. said they plan to shift the majority of their respective workforces to a hybrid work model post-pandemic and earlier this month Amazon.com Inc. announced its remote working plans.
But not all employers are so keen on offering employees flexibility. In the U.S., Wall Street’s big investment banks are sending a message to workers this summer: Get back into the office and bring your vaccination card.
New York-based Morgan Stanley said this week that all employees will be required to attest to their vaccination status. Those who aren’t vaccinated will be required to work remotely, which could potentially put their jobs at risk, since the bank’s top executives have said they want everyone back in the office by September. “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” said James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s CEO, at an industry conference earlier this month.
Morgan Stanley is one of several big banks in the U.S. requiring employees to return to the office and also provide documentation of having received a coronavirus vaccine or making a formal declaration confirming vaccination. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. required most of its employees to return to the office on June 14, with some exceptions extending that deadline to Sept. 30. It requires every employee to state their vaccine status, but doesn’t require proof. And JPMorgan Chase & Co. is asking employees to submit their vaccination records as well, in the form of an internal portal.
The return-to-office push has its roots in banking industry culture. Despite years of observing modernization and digital banking, the industry’s top executives still operate under a culture that prizes in-person meetings to carve out deals. This has made banks among the leading industries pushing for employees to return to the office as soon as possible as the pandemic wanes.
“We know from experience that our culture of collaboration, innovation and apprenticeship thrives when our people come together and we look forward to having more of our colleagues back in the office so that they can experience that once again on a regular basis,” Goldman Sachs executives wrote in a memo to employees earlier this month.
This isn’t the first time banks have tried to return their employees to the office during the pandemic. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, tried to mandate a return to offices for traders back in September 2020, long before the availability of a vaccine. The experiment lasted less than a week, resulting in several traders becoming infected with the coronavirus.