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NEW YORK – The explosion of COVID-19 cases generated in the United States, and especially in New York, due to the Omicron variant, it has led many companies to start the year with a return to teleworking, a formula that they had gradually abandoned during 2021 or that they hoped to banish in 2022.
The economic capital of the country, which was already one of the great epicenters of the coronavirus in the first wave of March 2020, these days registers record levels of infections (85,000 last Saturday) and a clear increase in hospitalizations (9,500 today, above the “winter peak” of 2021).
Faced with this situation, a large part of the private sector is opting for caution and ordering its employees to work remotely, at least during this first week after the Christmas holidays.
“Our company told us just before Christmas to work from home the first week of January, especially since many people were going to travel during the holidays,” explains Emma Jones, art director at a design agency based in New York. York which employs just over fifty people.
Among those who have changed their plans at the last minute, the case of large American banks is striking, which has stood out as one of the sectors most reluctant to extend teleworking.
Goldman Sachs, whose chief executive officer has been especially critical of this practice, on Sunday asked its employees in the United States to work remotely until January 18 if they can.
JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the country and which has also repeatedly stressed the importance of the office, it has allowed its workers to stay home for the first few weeks of the year.
For its part, Citigroup asked New York-area employees to start working remotely over Christmas and has already rolled out that policy to the rest of the country heading into January.
Entities like Bank of America have opted to telecommute for at least a week, while others like Wells Fargo have indefinitely postponed their return to office.
This Monday, the CEO of the investment fund Jefferies, Richard Handler, explained through social networks why he has asked his staff to work from home until the end of January.
“Although no one knows for sure, we believe (and fervently hope) that this may be the last truly difficult period in this pandemic. However, for now, I ask all of you to prioritize safety, ”said Handler.
The change in plans as a result of Ómicron is widespread in sectors that can afford not to have workers in person And it includes tech giants like Apple and Google and large companies from other fields like the oil company Chevron or the automaker Ford.
According to a survey conducted by the consulting firm Gartner, a few days before Christmas, 44% of US companies had already altered their return dates.
In New York, the contrast is set by the public sector, with municipal workers mostly working in person and with the promise that schools will remain open despite the strong uptick in cases.
Nor has it been decreed the closure of restaurants, cinemas, theaters and entertainment venues in general, where it is mandatory to show proof of vaccination.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.