Goldman Sachs hints at return-to-office plans after Omicron delay

Bank has 20% of staff in office, set to announce plans next month: COO

John Waldron, COO, Goldman Sachs (Getty Images, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
John Waldron, COO, Goldman Sachs (Getty Images, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

After a nationwide surge of new coronavirus cases delayed major employers’ plans for in-person work, Goldman Sachs is readying to welcome employees to the office once again.

COO John Waldron hinted at possible plans to bring more workers back to its offices in the coming weeks. Bloomberg reported Waldron’s comments from a virtual meeting with the New Jersey State Investment Council.

“We believe we can start to put more people in our offices, and you will see us make some announcements in that regard, starting in February,” Waldron told the council. “We really deeply believe, certainly for Goldman Sachs, that we function better when we’re together.”

While the bank harbors ambitions to bring employees back to the office, it may not be on a full-time basis. According to Bloomberg, Waldron said the company expects more flexibility and hybrid work moving forward.

Goldman Sachs was among the top U.S. banks that kicked off the new year by giving employees the option to work from home for the first few weeks of 2022. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America also pushed back any plans for employees’ returns to the office as New York City coped with a surge in cases linked to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

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Waldron said about 20 percent of Goldman Sachs’ U.S. employees are already back in the office, according to Bloomberg.

The wave of infections amid the spread of the Omicron variant was the second major setback in 2021 for the office market, which has struggled as more employers embraced remote work. The spread of the Delta variant sparked a mid-summer surge in cases across the country, upending the plans of many companies to bring employees back to the office by Labor Day.

Omicron’s lasting impact on the office market remains to be seen. In November, office tenants in Manhattan signed leases totaling more than 3 million square feet, the first month to exceed the benchmark since January 2020. Despite the increase, the availability rate was 16.9 percent — still 3.4 percentage points higher than the previous year.

[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner