US Bank told employees Wednesday they will no longer be due back in the office early next month because of surging Covid-19 cases.
“There are increased caseloads across the globe, and the Delta variant has caused us to adjust our plans,” Andy Cecere, the company’s CEO, wrote in an email to employees. Jeff Shelman, a spokesperson for the bank, confirmed the email, which was first reported by the Star Tribune.
US Bank, one of America’s largest banks, had planned to bring employees across the country back to offices on September 7.
“After weighing our options, we believe the right course of action is to postpone our broader return to the office until sometime in the fourth quarter,” Cecere said.
US Bank (USB) did not announce a new date to return to the office but said it will give employees 30 days’ notice.
Like most companies, US Bank shifted to virtual work when the pandemic erupted last year, with about 70% of the bank’s roughly 70,000 employees working remotely. US Bank said only a very small number have returned to the office in a hybrid mode since then.
The change in plans by US Bank stands in contrast with the stance of other major banks.
Representatives from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) told CNN Business this week they haven’t changed their return-to-office policies. Goldman Sachs brought employees back to the office in June, while JPMorgan staff members were expected back in the office by July.
But the Delta variant could force a rethink, especially if employees indicate they aren’t comfortable with piling back into crowded offices, subways, and buses.
Other companies are adjusting their return-to-office plans. On Wednesday, ViacomCBS (VIACA) CEO Bob Bakish told employees that the company has pushed its full-open date to October 18 at the earliest. The company had previously planned to open fully by September 20, according to a spokesperson, and has already been open to employees voluntarily since July 6.
“We will continue to closely monitor the impacts of the Delta variant and the response from schools, governments, and other employers as we finalize our plans to return to the office,” Bakish said in a memo.
Earlier, Google (GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai said in a late-July blog post that the company was extending its work-from-home policy through October 18.
He said in part that “we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it”.
And Bloomberg reported in late July that Lyft (LYFT) has delayed its return to the office until February.
If more companies delay their office reopenings, it would deal a blow to the restaurants, bars, and other small businesses that had been banking on a return of office workers this fall.