As COVID cases surge, Wells Fargo is latest employer to change return to office plans

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Wells Fargo is postponing its return to office plans until Oct. 4 due to rising COVID-19 case rates across the country, according to a memo the bank distributed to employees Thursday.

The return was originally set to begin Sept. 7 and continue through October.

Wells Fargo is one of Charlotte’s largest employers, with more than 27,000 workers in the area. The San Francisco-based bank had more than 260,000 total employees as of January 2021.

In the internal memo, Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell outlined changes to the bank’s return to work efforts. The postponement applies to U.S. employees currently working from home, Powell said, and doesn’t affect employees reporting to work in-person or participating in voluntary early returns.

The sequence of the returns will remain the same, he said. Operations and contact center workers will return first over the course of several weeks, followed by enterprise function and line of business support employees in November.

The bank previously informed employees that, as part of its return to in-person work, workers in enterprise roles — including departments like finance, corporate risk and human resources — will spend a minimum of three days a week in the office.

Powell said that the bank will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and and make further adjustments, “if required to prioritize the health and safety of our employees and customers.”

As cases rise, company policies shift

Wells Fargo is one of several major Charlotte employers to announce policy changes in recent weeks as public health officials express rising concern over the continued spread of COVID-19 and the highly contagious Delta variant.

On Tuesday, Truist Bank confirmed that it will pause its return to office efforts and require employees working in-person to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

The Charlotte-based bank updated its safety protocols “due to rising concerns over the COVID-19 Delta variant, a substantial increase in cases across our markets, and the CDC’s recent guidance,” it said in a statement to the Observer.

Lowe’s and Duke Energy implemented mask requirements Monday for employees when working indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Novant Health and Atrium Health, announced July 23 that they would require all employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. On Thursday, the two companies were followed by seven of Charlotte’s largest independent medical practices, who announced they would also mandate vaccines for workers.

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