Is this the end of remote work for Wall Street workers?

  • Remote work for Wall Street’s big banks may soon be a thing of the past.
  • Morgan Stanley said it would adjust employees’ pay if they didn’t return to New York offices.
  • American Express and CitiGroup are adopting a hybrid model.

Wall Street workers are expected back in the office by September, whether they like it or not.

Morgan Stanley became the latest Wall Street company to tell employees that they are expected to return to the office at the end of summer, according to a new report. It’s yet more evidence that Wall Street is eager to return to the pre-COVID way of doing things.

Speaking to analysts and investors during a virtual conference, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said that if workers can dine out around the city, then they should be able to come back and work in the office.

“We do our work inside Morgan Stanley offices,” Gorman said. “If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office, and we want you in the office.”

Reuters reported that Gorman would be “very disappointed” if most of the company’s employees are not at the headquarters in Manhattan in September.

Most of Morgan Stanley’s employees — around 70,000 — worked remotely for more than a year. Gorman said that the company’s call for employees to return to the office will vary by location. The firm’s 2,000 employees in India will remain remote this year, as the country is grappling with more than 29 million cases of COVID-19.

“If you want to get paid in New York, you need to be in New York,” Gorman said.

“None of this I’m in Colorado getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City. Sorry that doesn’t work,” he added.

It remains unclear whether Morgan Stanley will require employees to work full-time from its Midtown office. In March, the company said it anticipated a “full return” to its office while offering some flexibility for employees to work remotely during the week depending on the employees and job.

Other Wall Street bosses call workers back

The call to round up employees and get them back into the office is a trend among Wall Street banks.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has been one of the most vocal proponents of getting workers back into the office as soon as possible. Earlier this year, Solomon called remote work an “aberration,” and the company had implemented a return-to-the-office plan this month.

In May, the company sent a memo to employees telling them that a majority of its workers in the U.S. and U.K. were expected to return to their desks in June, the New York Times reported. (Workers in the U.S. returned to the office on June 14, while those in Britain are expected to return on June 21.)

Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase reopened its offices across the country in May. The company told its employees that fully vaccinated staff do not have to wear masks at its U.S.-based offices, and that it would fully expect that employees would return to the office on “consistent rotational schedule” by July.

The move isn’t surprising, considering Jamie Dimon, the company’s chairman and CEO, said he’s just about had it with Zoom meetings.

Elsewhere, senior managers at Bank of America have started to return to the office. The bank asked employees about their vaccination status and gave those vaccinated 30 days notice to return.

American Express and CitiGroup offer employees flexibility

There’s a divide on Wall Street, as some companies are still being more lenient with remote work in future office plans.

American Express CEO Stephen Squeri said the company will require workers to come to the office three days per week in a hybrid model that starts on Sept. 13, according to a memo. Similarly, CitiGroup said it won’t call in its workers to the Downtown Manhattan office until July.