Capital One to Keep Most Employees Home Until at Least September

Kelly C. Gamble

(Bloomberg) — Capital One Financial Corp., potentially setting a standard for the U.S. financial industry, plans to keep most of its employees working at home at least four more months as it waits for the coronavirus pandemic to ebb.

The lender’s offices in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. will remain shut to all non-essential staff at least through the Labor Day holiday on Sept. 7, Chief Executive Officer Richard Fairbank wrote in an internal memo. He promised employees that the McLean, Virginia-based firm will give them at least six weeks’ notice once it decides to reopen those sites.

That’s one of the strongest signs yet that legions of industry employees using makeshift work stations at home may have to wait much longer to return to their offices, even as many states begin lifting restrictions on public life. Capital One, which earns most of its revenue from its massive credit card business, said in late March that it had more than 40,000 people doing their jobs remotely online — accounting for more than three-quarters of its workforce.

Many major financial firms have yet to publicly set dates for reopening offices as they grapple with numerous challenges, such as how to help employees safely commute, ascend elevators and navigate shared workspaces. And those that have weighed in on the topic have expressed caution. At Citigroup Inc., for example, President Jane Fraser said last month that the firm will conduct its own analyses of risks and won’t necessarily reopen offices just because local authorities issue all-clears.

Capital One has spent years investing in technology and was among the first U.S. banks to announce it would transition to cloud computing. Those moves have helped the firm operate more effectively during this crisis, Fairbank said in the memo.

Decisions to return will vary by location, dependent on local conditions, he said. Meanwhile, most of the lender’s branches have remained open, serving customers with drive-thru or from behind glass.

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