Bank of America Corp. has issued “letter of education” messages that threaten disciplinary action against employees who choose to work from home, as the megabank puts some teeth into its return-to-office mandates.
Bank of America and other big banks have not updated their postpandemic return-to-office policies despite a surge in COVID cases over the winter, although if employees are sick, they are being urged to stay home.
While the vast majority of employees have been following Bank of America’s
mandate to work in the office either three or five days a week, depending on the position, some have not.
“You are receiving a letter of Education for failure to follow the minimum expectation regarding your work location set by the Workplace Excellence Guidelines despite requests and reminders to do so,” the letter says, according to a post on a blog called thelayoff.com.
A source familiar with the bank confirmed that the letters were issued by Bank of America
to employees who had received a previous email notice.
“Well over the majority” of Bank of America employees are in compliance with its return-to-office policy, put in place in October 2022, the source said.
The letter gives workers two weeks from the date of notification to comply or face “further disciplinary action.” The bank also tells employees the letter will be included in their personnel file.
The Dec. 18 blog post about Bank of America’s letter drew some critical reactions from readers.
“Letter of Education??? Now that is a funny title! Reminds me of North Korea or China ‘repatriation’ training,” read one anonymous comment. “I swear. Some of the phrases around this place have to make you laugh at the utterly bizarre and the unnecessary …”
The majority of Bank of America employees are required to be in the office three days a week, while investment bankers, traders and client-facing employees must be in five days a week, with “some flexibility” built in, according to a source.
Wall Street banks cite the need to collaborate and to mentor younger staff members as reasons for working together in the office. In-person workers are able to huddle more quickly to solve client problems, they say.
JPMorgan’s most senior-level employees — its managing directors — have been back in the office full-time since April, according to a source familiar with the bank.
Employees who work a hybrid schedule are required to be in the office at least three days a week.
Branch employees and check-processing, operations, sales and trading personnel have been coming in five days a week, but the bank remains flexible, as it was before the pandemic, the source said.
JPMorgan managers are charged with enforcing attendance in the office, and in cases when employees work from home too often, bosses must take “appropriate performance-management steps, which could include corrective action,” a source said.
At Citigroup, the majority of employees are allowed to work on a hybrid schedule of three days a week in the office and up to two days a week at home, a source said.
The bank has been more flexible than others under Chief Executive Jane Fraser, who said in an interview in late 2022 that working in the office every single day is mostly unnecessary nowadays.
Out of about 240,000 employees worldwide, Citigroup employs 120,079 women and 119,779 men. Fifty-two percent of the people in its 2022 summer analyst and associate programs were women.
The moves by the banks come as employees around the U.S. look for a more agreeable work-life balance.
A 2024 Ford study showed that 77% of employed workers said that they prioritize a balanced personal life over their advancement on the job. Fifty-two percent of workers said they’d be willing to take a 20% pay cut for a lifestyle that prioritizes their quality of life.