Goldman, JPMorgan, Citi Staff Return as U.K. Lockdown Ends

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have lifted restrictions that had blocked all but a few staff from their London offices after the U.K.’s monthlong lockdown ended Wednesday.

From Dec. 2, employees no longer have to work from home, according to an internal memo sent Tuesday by Richard Gnodde, Goldman’s international head. “For those who need to be in the office, Plumtree Court will be open,” he said.

Citigroup’s U.K. head James Bardrick said Wednesday he expects a limited increase in numbers at the office. These staff are those working “on year-end priorities, specifically planning and coordinating our Brexit preparations, and supporting our clients and markets,” he said.

JPMorgan has also told workers that it’s making its offices in London, Bournemouth and Basingstoke more widely accessible from Wednesday, and that each business line will assess the right number of people needed in the office at any one time.

Britain’s second lockdown had started Nov. 5, with most shops closing and people being asked to work from home to stop virus cases overwhelming hospitals.

As that restriction lifts, other firms in the City of London are also likely to let more workers return, giving a boost to businesses in the financial district before Christmas. Wall Street banks including Goldman, which is also reopening its office gym from Wednesday, have been among the most vocal advocates for a return to the office.

Goldman opened its new European headquarters in London just over a year ago to house more than 5,000 staff. After the first lockdown ended, Goldman had managed to return 20% of workers to that office, but that figure shrank to 10% after the second lockdown started.

Still, there isn’t likely to be a wholesale return to London’s offices anytime soon as government science advisers warn that virus cases could flare up over the Christmas holiday season.

A separate email sent to Goldman staff noted that client meetings in the office aren’t permitted except under special circumstances. Meetings outside the office are discouraged but allowed for up to six attendees, if deemed business-critical. In line with a global policy, JPMorgan’s memo asked staff to “plan to work remotely the week following major holidays like Christmas and New Year, unless you are an essential worker.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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