With more and more people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in the US, employers are asking workers to return to offices.
This week Morgan Stanley and Bank of America’s top officers said they were expecting some of their employees to be back in the office after summer.
Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said at an investing conference on Monday that it was time for the New York workers to head back to the office now that life is slowly returning to normal.
"If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come to the office. And we want you in the office," Gorman told CNN.
Gorman joked that he was attending the annual conference on financial payments and commercial real estate from the company's New York office, wearing a suit, tie, and shoes.
Gorman, however, warned that if after summer, most of the New York workers do not get off Zoom and board the subway to come to the office more regularly, he might have a “different kind of conversation” with them.
"By Labor Day, I'll be very disappointed if people haven't found their way into the office and then we'll have a different kind of conversation," he said, adding that New York workers can't expect to get the same salary if they continue to work remotely.
"If you want to get paid at the New York rates, you work in New York," Gorman said. He, however, added that the company would still be flexible about employees splitting work time between home and the office.
He said the policy would not be "dictatorial," noting that many working parents still need to be home with kids if they are not in school or camp.
On Thursday, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan echoed Gorman, saying he expected vaccinated employees to return to the office after Labor Day. "We'll be able to operate fairly normally…," Moynihan told CNN.
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Gorman also hoped that most workers coming back to the office would be vaccinated, saying that "well over 90 percent" of Morgan Stanley employees had already received the shots and that he expected the number to increase to 98-99 percent.
Gorman added that the company's policy for returning to the office was not a blanket statement, but would be on a case-by-case business.
For instance, he said, he was not asking employees in India to work from their offices at least this year. Morgan Stanley has around 10,000 employees in India, which is just recovering from the second wave of the COVID-19.
"They're not coming back to work," Gorman said. "That's not a 2021 issue."
After a year of work from home, the trend of bosses calling their employees back to work started around March with people getting vaccinated and countries trying to limp back to normalcy.
While some like Facebook and Aviva have given the flexibility of working from home to its workers, others, particularly within the finance industry, suggest the long-term role of remote work has been overstated, and that the office will continue to serve as an important hub, says a BBC report.
“It’s not a new normal,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon had said at a Credit Suisse Group AG conference in February.
Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, voiced similar sentiments even earlier in January, describing remote working as an unsustainable short-term measure. “It’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”