JPMorgan set to lift 50% staffing cap in Canary Wharf as restrictions ease

JPMorgan is set to re-kit its offices to prepare for more than half of its England-based employees to return from 19 July, but will maintain some safety precautions even as staff numbers ramp up.

In a memo sent to staff on 13 July seen by Financial News the US investment bank said it would lift its current 50% maximum capacity restrictions as it opens its England offices up to more employees from Monday — the UK government’s date for removing existing Covid-19 legal limits on social distancing.

“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,” the memo from its return to office taskforce said.

“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.”

In July last year, JPMorgan redesigned its Canary Wharf headquarters, complete with 31,000 stickers directing staff on how to keep Covid-safe, double-spaced desks and temperature checks in the lobby.

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JPMorgan has been quicker to ask staff back to the office in the UK, with chief executive Jamie Dimon consistently pushing for greater collaboration between colleagues that he said was not possible via Zoom conferences.

In England, JPMorgan delayed a wider return to the office to 19 July, in line with government recommendations, but is now set to increase its in-office numbers in the coming weeks.

In the US, banks including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have said that vaccinated staff do not need to continue to wear masks in the office. But restrictions have so far been maintained in the UK, which is battling against increasing cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 despite widespread vaccinations.

JPMorgan said in the 13 July memo it would retain the need to wear masks in common areas and that employees still need to complete health checks when coming into the office.

READ London, Paris and Frankfurt: Five charts tracking the return to work

“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,” the memo said.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke

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