JPMorgan, Citi Send London Workers Home on Latest Lockdown

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc. joined rivals in asking the vast majority of employees in England to work from home following government rules to stop a surge in coronavirus infections.

The Wall Street banks told staff in separate memos Tuesday that most workers will be required to work from home until further notice from Thursday, when a month-long nationwide lockdown begins.

Citigroup’s Canary Wharf office remains open for workers who cannot effectively perform their roles from home, according to a memo from David Livingstone, head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and U.K. head James Bardrick.

JPMorgan’s new measures mean that about 5% of its workers will be in the office, including around 20% of its traders. The bank had as many as 30% of staff return to its London offices in recent months, although this was pared back to around a fifth after Boris Johnson’s government urged more people to work at home in September.

“We have decided to reduce the number of people in our locations across England to essential workers only, in some cases working on rotation between the office and home,” the JPMorgan memo said.

Each business will determine who is required to be in the office and employees who are permitted to come in will be issued with a letter that they can show to officials when commuting. The bank has about 19,000 workers in the U.K. including 12,000 in London.

JPMorgan also reminded staff who will not be in the office to only work from their primary home address in the U.K., according to the memo. That would preclude bankers seeking to avoid the British winter by shifting to vacation homes in sunnier locations.

Representatives for JPMorgan and Citigroup confirmed the contents of the memos.

Productivity

The substantial reduction in office numbers follows similar moves from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG, with banks across the City of London set to leave the financial district resembling the ghost town created during the March lockdown.

Wall Street banks have argued office working preserves company culture and boosts productivity. JPMorgan and other banks had already paused efforts to bring staff back to their London bases in September, when the U.K. government urged people to work from home if possible.

The U.K.’s second national lockdown will shutter most shops, pubs and restaurants but schools and offices are allowed to remain open. The new measures will apply for four weeks until Dec. 2. The government could then return to varying rules by region, depending on whether infection rates go into reverse.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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