Almost a quarter of Manhattan’s major employers don’t know when their offices will start getting back to normal as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus roils employers’ back-to-work plans.
Twenty-two percent of 187 companies surveyed by the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group, said they could not estimate when their offices would reach even half capacity. And of the businesses polled — representing about 215,000 workers in white-collar fields — three-quarters had delayed plans to call employees back because of surging virus cases.
The Omicron variant has also prompted offices to change policies, such as reinstating mask mandates, sending nonessential workers home, and suspending in-person meetings and business travel, according to the survey, which was conducted starting Jan. 10. A quarter of the companies require employees who work from offices to be tested regularly, while 12 percent have mandated vaccinations or booster shots by a specific date.
More than a third of the businesses surveyed were financial services firms. Executives in the industry, which employs more than 330,000 people in the city, have been outspoken in pressing for in-office working. But those firms also had pause their plans.
Even Goldman Sachs, which unlike many competitors did not encourage staff members to work from home during the holidays, has pushed back its planned return date twice this month. It initially said workers should be back on Tuesday, but has postponed that to Feb. 1, according to a person with knowledge of the policy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
David M. Solomon, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Tuesday that the virus would ultimately become endemic and “as a society, we will find a way to live with it, supported by the efficacy of vaccines and new treatments.
“For our firm, that means being flexible and dynamic with our protocols to adapt to this new state of the world, while also enabling the majority of our people to be back in the office safely,” added Mr. Solomon, who has championed face-to-face working for the bank’s 43,900 global employees.