The delta coronavirus variant is causing havoc on Wall Street. On Monday, two vaccinated employees contracted Covid-19, and workers on the 14th floor of Morgan Stanley's Times Square building were asked to stay away until the area could be cleaned. Some staff missed the message and showed up Tuesday morning, while others asked if the company would start mandating masks. Across an industry that was already split on returning to work, policies are diverging more than ever.
Goldman Sachs & JPMorgan have been the staunchest advocates of bringing back employees to the office. Neither firm requires workers to share their vaccination status nor forces workers to get the shot. Both CEOs (Solomon & Dimon) thrive on Wall Street's culture of in-person meetings. "The Zoom land, Zoom world, does not work as well for apprenticeships, for teaching, for creative combustion, for management, for idea generation, for learning a lot. It just doesn’t," said Jamie Dimon.
Other firms have had a softer stance. BlackRock and Wells Fargo have pushed back plans for return to offices by about a month to October. Citigroup reinstated a mask mandate for employees and Jefferies, the investment bank that lost its CFO due to complications from the virus, told staff to get vaccinated before coming back.
Short Squeez Takeaway: Banks such as Goldman and JPMorgan are worried if employees can do their jobs effectively working from home. Others see no reason to rush back to offices as Wall Street has proved it can earn outsized profits working from home. But as the delta variant spreads, it is looking more likely that it will force more banks to work-from-home policies.