Wednesday 14 July 2021 12:13 pm

JP Morgan to lift pandemic office capacity caps in London

Daily news reporter in City A.M.'s London newsroom

JP Morgan will soon lift its 50 per cent capacity cap for its Canary Wharf office as pandemic restrictions are lifted next week.

Employees will still be required to wear masks in common areas and complete health checks, as reported by Financial News.

The US investment bank’s return-to-office task force said in an internal memo: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, our buildings have been restricted to a maximum 50% capacity and many teams are likely to return to the office on a rotational schedule at first with that in mind.”

“In the coming weeks and months, we will be adjusting for larger numbers of employees to be in the office at the same time. To support these plans, we will reconfigure our floors to return our buildings across the country to their regular capacity.”

JP Morgan’s Canary Wharf headquarters were made more Covid-safe last year, with floor stickers, double-spaced desks and temperature checks introduced.

The bank’s US staff were already told to return to their offices this month, in line with other US banking giants. Those double vaccinated will not have to wear masks in the office, a measure the company is keeping for its UK workforce.

“While the UK vaccination programme has been a success, given the ongoing uncertainty around new variants of the virus and heightened infection levels across the country, we remain cautious and plan to retain some of our established safety measures,” JP Morgan said in the memo sent yesterday.

Last month, it sent a memo to all US staff “strongly urging” them to get a Covid vaccine before returning to offices. It also dangled the possibility of mandatory vaccination, a move already taken by Morgan Stanley in New York.

Last week, chancellor Rishi Sunak said Brits should return to the office as pandemic restrictions ease on 19 July. 

The chancellor expressed concerns that staff could lose crucial work experience while the economy returns.

Sunak said: “I think for young people, especially, that ability to be in your office, be in your workplace and learn from others more directly, is something that’s really important and I look forward to us slowly getting back to that.”

However, office workers seem to be happy with spending more time at home. Recent polling showed that over two thirds of workers want more flexible working post-pandemic.

Workers are keen to see “hybrid” working arrangements once they return to work, with seven in ten wanting flexible working to be standard.

The most popular option is working three days in the office and two days at home, but this varies across gender and generational Iines.

Men are more likely to favour more time in the office than women, while older workers show a slight preference for more days at home compared with Generation Z.