One of Charlotte’s biggest employers is postponing its return to office plans — again

·3 min read

Wells Fargo is postponing its return to office plans until Nov. 1, according to a new memo distributed to its U.S. employees.

It’s the second time the bank has pushed back a broad return to in-person work. Wells had originally planned to launch its return plans Sept. 7, then moved the date to Oct. 4., citing rising COVID-19 case rates across the country.

Wells Fargo is the latest major employer in the Charlotte area to see its return to work plans upended again by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday’s Wells Fargo memo, from Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell, did not provide a reason for the switch.

Wells Fargo is based in San Francisco but employs more than 27,000 workers in Charlotte. The bank had more than 260,000 total employees as of January.

Powell said Wells Fargo is studying proposed regulations, announced by President Joe Biden last week, that will require businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for workers.

“We are studying these proposed requirements to better understand how they apply to our RTO plans, and will share more information as it’s available,” Powell wrote.

Powell told employees that the bank will continue to provide 30 days notice of any changes to the return to office start date.

Wells Fargo 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.

Putting the return to office on hold

Over the summer, many of Charlotte’s largest employers were targeting Labor Day for a broad return to in-person work. That changed in late summer, when COVID-19 cases increased sharply and the delta variant spread through the city.

In August, Charlotte-based Truist Bank paused its return to the office “due to rising concerns over the COVID-19 delta variant.” The bank said at the time that it was targeting October or November to launch the remaining phases of its plans.

Bank of America invited vaccinated employees back to the office in July. Since then, the bank hasn’t publicly provided updates on its plans.

Last week, Duke Energy pushed its return to work to October, the company told the Observer. The utility provider originally planned to bring back the majority of its office employees in phases starting in September.

All of the delays makes for tough news for uptown Charlotte, where the city’s largest office buildings are packed together and some businesses are betting on a return to office to bring back much of their customer base.

Ami Patel, owner of Overstreet Market in One Wells Fargo Center, told the Observer in August that her shop has struggled to stay afloat since the city’s largest employers pivoted to remote work in 2020. She has been anxiously waiting for the bank to bring back the foot traffic that was the lifeblood of her business.

“We’re really, really hurting,” Patel said. “ I don’t think our business will survive unless people come back for their work.”

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