Canadian financial firms to rethink return-to-office amid Omicron concerns

Canada’s top health official Theresa Tam warned on Monday that COVID-19 cases in the country could rise rapidly in the coming days, due to the community spread of the Omicron variant.

Concerns over the highly transmissible variant has spooked investors around the world and prompted companies to delay their return to offices.

Here are the updated plans of Canadian banks and insurers’ to bring staff back to office:

Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO): Scotiabank has paused plans to begin a phased return for its Toronto head-office employees from Jan. 17. When the return happens, it will be staggered for different groups and most head-office staff will follow a hybrid working model.

Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO): Canada’s second-biggest life insurer has paused its office re-opening pilot for more employees until the end of January, citing worries over the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

The company has launched a flexible return-to-office approach for a majority of its 12,000 staffers in Canada, that will allowed them to choose where to work from.

National Bank of Canada (NA.TO): The bank said it will bring back Canadian employees gradually and on a voluntary basis, with no set date.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO): Most of the bank’s 61,000 employees are working from home, but many have begun returning to offices or will do so over the coming weeks and months. Many of those will adopt a hybrid work model, working some days from home and some days in the office.

Each business group and region is determining the best work arrangements for them, and employees will receive at least four weeks’ notice before they return to offices.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO): Employees working from home are not expected to return to the bank’s locations before 2022, but it is “monitoring the evolving situation.” The bank is preparing for employees to return to TD premises when conditions allow.

Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO): Some employees who were working from home returned to BMO locations in June, and others started during autumn. The timetable for a full-fledged return will differ by groups, teams and geographies.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO): Most Canadian employees working from home will return to offices on a hybrid basis in early 2022.

Manulife Financial (MFC.TO): Manulife expects employees in Canada and the United States to return to offices on Jan. 24, with many working three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and one flex day – in the office.

In addition, the banks and insurers have put in place mandatory vaccination policies that employees will need to follow to return to their premises. read more

Reporting by Nichola Saminather and Niket Nishant; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Barbara Lewis

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