According to Bloomberg, JPMorgan is asking thousands of US-based employees to work from home in test of “virus contingency plan” for closing domestic offices should the coronavirus spread. As part of the test, managers have requested that about 10% of staff across its consumer bank work remotely as part of the plan’s resiliency testing, which has been code-named “Project Kennedy” (it wasn’t clear why JPM picked that name for the project). And since JPMorgan’s consumer bank has 127,137 employees, the most of any of the firm’s divisions, that means that over 12,000 workers will be working from home for the foreseeable future.
As the coronavirus spreads, banks around the world have been scrambling ensure they can keep their businesses running and avoid a worst-case scenario by restricting travel, splitting up teams and traders amid different locations, and quarantining staff. As Bloomberg notes, some are also “dusting off regulatory plans for keeping “critical operations” open through a potential pandemic, some of which describe things like how far apart traders should sit from each other, or how many can work remotely.”
The key test for JPM’s will assess its telecommuting policy on a sampling of employees across businesses to ensure kinks are worked out before the plan needs to be rolled out more broadly in the event of a pandemic, one of the people said.
In other words, JPMorgan thinks it’s just a matter of time before it gets… worse.
It wasnt exactly clear how JPM’s client-facing bank tellers will do their job by teleconference. While technology has made it possible for more professionals to do their jobs remotely, working from home generally isn’t an option for branch workers like tellers and bankers who deal directly with customers. JPMorgan had 4,976 branches around the country as of the end of December that are filled with thousands of employees who have to show up to work for business to run.