- Business Insider obtained a memo that Goldman Sachs sent to employees on Thursday.
- It details the bank’s reopening and testing strategy as it brings workers back to offices.
- Between 15 and 20% of Goldman Sachs employees have already returned to the office, Business Insider has learned.
- Goldman’s plan — our best look yet at a big bank’s strategy — involves using three kinds of coronavirus testing: antigen, PCR, and antibody.
- Do you have information about companies’ reopening strategies? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] or through Signal/text at 1-252-241-3117.
- For more stories like this, sign up here for Business Insider’s daily healthcare newsletter.
Business Insider has obtained a Goldman Sachs memo that sheds new light on how the marquee Wall Street firm is bringing employees back to the office.
The memo is dated October 8 and lays out the testing strategy that Goldman is using as one of the first major companies to bring white-collar employees back to physical offices. Between 15 and 20% of Goldman Sachs employees have returned to the New York office, according to a person familiar with the matter.
In it, the company details three kinds of tests it’ll use, plus its rules on social distancing, mask-wearing, and contact tracing. For New Yorkers in particular, Goldman is standing up an in-person screening service too.
Wall Street wants to get back to the office
Large banks have put stakes in the ground over this issue of working from home versus returning to the office. Executives are asking workers to come back to the office, The New York Times reported last month, if only for some days of the week or month. Some of them seem worried about degraded office culture, which in finance typically includes long hours and time spent face-to-face, and dwindling productivity during these long months of isolation.
“It’s complicated, and it’s different for everybody,” David Solomon, Goldman’s CEO, said in a recent town hall with employees, according to a partial transcript provided to Business Insider. “People have different obligations. I’d really like to encourage people to try to spend some time in office and try it out.”
He added: “The connectivity that we get from being present with each other and our apprenticeship culture in the organization is hugely important. In a difficult environment we’ve got to continue to find ways to move forward with that.”
A spokesperson for Goldman confirmed the contents of the transcript.
Solomon isn’t the only top banker who wants to get back in the office. In September at a conference, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said “going back to work is a good thing” and that his firm had seen productivity slip among at-home workers.
“You can create more deaths from depression, overdose if we’re not real careful and manage those things,” he told investors.
Read more: Wall Street is getting back to work. Here are the latest return-to-office plans for 6 firms, including JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Citi.
In August, a person familiar with Blackstone’s return-to-work plans told Business Insider’s Casey Sullivan that investment teams were strongly encouraged to stop working from home unless they had a “valid reason” not to.
But Wall Street’s great experiment with returning hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Last month, Goldman and JPMorgan sent some workers home after two people tested positive for the virus, several outlets reported. Since then, however, Goldman has had no other reported cases, according to a separate person familiar with its testing program.
Goldman had no official comment on its caseload.
However badly bankers are hammering for their terminals, at least two large surveys have shown that many workers remain anxious about returning to the office at the same time that the coronavirus continues to spread, Business Insider’s Reed Alexander reported.
In New York, where many Goldman employees live, cases are ticking back up, leading officials to shut down schools and restaurants in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. On average, there’s 566 new cases each day, according to The New York Times’ tracker.
Goldman’s plan includes PCR, antigen, antibody testing
Many companies have declined to show details about their return-to-office strategies, and several large employers still have none, Business Insider previously reported. Frequent in-person testing is particularly hard to pull off. Samples often have to be sent away for analysis, a dayslong process wherein an infected person could unknowingly spread the virus.
Goldman’s plan — our best look yet at a big bank’s strategy — involves using three kinds of coronavirus testing, as well as public-health measures such as social distancing, mask rules, and contact tracing, according to the memo. A spokesperson for the company confirmed that the memo’s contents are accurate.
Read more: A startup has doctors watch people take at-home coronavirus tests over their computers because that’s what the FDA requires. It’s helping the NBA, Goldman Sachs, and SpaceX get back to work.
The company is offering a onetime PCR test to all returning workers at any office. It’s also offering one antibody test. Those can tell whether someone has had coronavirus in the past, while the PCR test would show whether they’re currently infected. The company is also offering coronavirus antigen tests, which are another, often faster way of determining whether a person is sick.
The bank is working with partners like Vault Health to supply the tests and monitor results, Business Insider previously reported. Vault uses a saliva test developed by Rutgers University.
Employees at 200 West St., Goldman’s New York headquarters, can also use a screening service offered on-site. While that program isn’t yet available, it’ll be rolling out in a couple of weeks, a person familiar with the matter said.
Goldman might extend the screening program to other large offices in the future, the memo said.
Lastly, the bank indicated that it might contact trace people who are exposed to those with symptoms.
Here’s the full letter sent to Goldman employees on Thursday, titled ‘Information About Goldman Sachs’ COVID-19 Testing Program’:
Driven by our people-first principle, we are committed to prioritizing your health and safety. As high-quality testing has become more available, we have engaged vendor partners to offer off-site COVID-19 tests to eligible people in the US at no cost. COVID-19 tests include diagnostic tests (e.g., PCR and antigen tests), which are used to diagnose active infection, and antibody tests, which are used to diagnose previous infection. Testing is one part of a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes wearing masks, following general hygiene and hand washing best practices, and practicing social distancing.
Eligible colleagues, who have returned or are planning to return to a Goldman Sachs office, will be offered one-time PCR (saliva-based) and antibody tests. As you become eligible to receive a test based on your RTO status, you will receive a separate e-mail from Wellness with further instructions. As a reminder, please complete the RTO questionnaire if you are interested in returning to the office. If you have not returned to the office or do not plan to return to the office at this time and would still like to be tested, please contact your primary care physician. Most COVID-19 tests are reimbursable through your health insurance.
For those at 200 West Street, we will introduce an additional on-site screening program to potentially identify early infection trends in the workplace and to monitor the ongoing health of our people. We will share further information on this screening program closer to launch and are considering rolling out to additional larger offices in the future.
We also plan to use testing to evaluate individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and those identified as close contacts.
Please review answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our testing program, contact your Wellness Exchange team or visit the COVID-19 and RTO site on GSWeb.
Do you have information about companies’ reopening strategies? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] through Signal/text at 1-252-241-3117.