American Express and BlackRock are the latest major companies to urge employees to start 2022 by working remotely as Covid-19 cases skyrocket.
“We have seen an exponential increase in the spread of the Omicron variant across the world,” AmEx CEO Stephen Squeri said in a memo to employees on Tuesday. “We encourage all those who can do their jobs effectively from home to continue doing so.”
New York-based AmEx said it has decided to delay the January 24 launch of a new flexible working plan that will require most employees to be in the office one to three days a week.
The AmEx (AXP) CEO said the launch is delayed “until we feel comfortable bringing a large number of colleagues back together in the office.”
Meanwhile, BlackRock (BLK), which is also based in New York, is encouraging employees to “work from wherever they are most comfortable” as a result of the Omicron variant, company spokesperson Aziz Nayani told CNN.
“Our offices are still open and employees can work from the office if they choose to,” the BlackRock spokesperson said.
Prior to the holidays, BlackRock encouraged flexibility with employees’ work locations through January 7. The world’s largest asset manager notified employees late last week that flexibility will be extended through January 28.
All of this is a shift from BlackRock’s prior policy, where US employees in most cities were asked to come into the office three days a week, on average.
A number of major companies have revised their back-to-the-office plans in recent days, including New York-based big banks JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Jefferies.
The shifts underscore the concern among employees about piling back into crowded offices, elevators and subways given the deteriorating health situation.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has pushed back on the return of remote work, worrying that empty office buildings will hurt the ecosystem of workers that rely on office workers and business travelers, including dry cleaners, restaurants and hot dog vendors.
“We have low-skilled employees who can’t do employment from home, or telecommuting,” Adams told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Tuesday. “It is time to open up, and feed our ecosystem, our financial ecosystem.”