Bank of America Sends Harsh Letter to Work-from-Home Employees Threatening Disciplinary Action

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jan 31, 2024

Bank of America is the latest company to try to crack down on office workers who got too comfortable working from home during the pandemic. The company issued letters to their employees, sternly encouraging them to properly return to work.

This effort is shared by many companies and Wall Street institutions that have been struggling with workplace attendance, as workers have mixed opinions on the necessity of showing up to the office.

Letters of Education

Bank of America is sending warning letters to its employees that it calls “Letters of Education.” The Financial Times reportedly saw one of these letters, which featured a stern warning.

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The Bank of America building in Baltimore

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“Failure to follow the workplace excellence expectations applicable to your role within two weeks of the date of this notification may result in further disciplinary action,” the letter said.

Pandemic Policy Woes

As the effects of the pandemic started to lessen, Bank of America started requiring most of its employees to start coming back into the office. In October 2022, the company started requiring many employees to come into the office at least three days a week (via Business Insider).

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A woman wearing a mask while riding a train

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Most employees followed the directive and started attending the office for work. However, not everyone was so keen to return to an office commute schedule.

Office Stragglers

Since that announcement, the company has had limited success with forcing stragglers of the directive to attend. This latest notice to its employees includes a two-week deadline to comply, otherwise they will face disciplinary action.

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A frustrated office worker working on an assignment sheet.

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Previously, U.S. workers for Bank of America were given a prior warning about noncompliance before this latest two-week ultimatum. Employees who are more client-oriented, like sales team members, were already required to come in for five days a week.

Layoffs in Asia

This news coincides with Bank of America laying off staff members in its Asia market. Reuters reported that they were cutting 20 staff members, with the staff working with China being affected the most.

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A city in Asia illuminated at night.

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These layoffs make it the first global bank to institute a regional downsizing in 2024. China and Hong Kong stocks have reached a low point in recent years as the yuan has been struggling against the value of the U.S. dollar.

Bank of America 2023 Layoffs

Bank of America is not afraid to lay off employees if this latest “letter of education” is not taken seriously.

A road running by a Bank of America building

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In 2023, Bank of America reduced its head count by 1.9%, according to Forbes. This total head count decrease happened despite the company hiring more than 12,000 new employees that same year. Deep job cuts may lay ahead for the company in 2024.

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More Financial Institutions Laying Off Workers

Bank of America is not alone in laying off workers. Some of the largest banking companies in the world instituted layoffs in 2023.

The Goldman Sachs Tower is located on the water in New Jersey.

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Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs both laid off around 5% of their employees last year. In particular, Wells Fargo has eliminated 50,000 employees in the last three years, per CNBC. JPMorgan Chase is the only major bank that has seen positive growth in its employee numbers.

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Other Efforts to Recall Straggling Workers

In April 2023, JPMorgan Chase implemented its own strategy to get workers to come back to the office. The CEO Jamie Dimon decreed that his top executives were required to come to the office five days a week also, according to Business Insider.

An office worker on a shift in the comfort of their home.

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Goldman Sachs also asks its workers to come in five days a week. Many companies are struggling to win the fight to bring their employees back into the office, with many employees pressuring their superiors to justify it.

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Why Do Employees Need to Be at the Office?

With all this effort to get employees to return to work at the office, one must think the benefits of doing so are clear. However, the data is unclear on whether working from the office is any more efficient than working from home.

An office with plants and desks.

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Senior Vice President of Amazon Mike Hopkins admitted in a staff meeting that the company had “no data either way” about whether forcing workers to work at the office made them more productive, according to Business Insider.

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Why Are Companies Obsessed with Making Employees Return to Work?

If the data isn’t clear that working in the office provides better productivity, then it leaves one to wonder why are employers going to such things to mandate it. One possibility is that companies want to force workers to quit on their own, so they don’t have to do such large layoffs.

A woman with her head down while seated at a desk.

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A 2022 Hiring Benchmark Report by Critiera found that companies with in-person work requirements report higher levels of turnover.

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Benefits for Workers

While coming into the office and losing to a commute is a definite negative, there are positives for workers who return to the office. A worker’s physical presence is noticed by superiors, giving the worker a connection that makes them more likely to get promoted in the future.

A group of office workers gathered around for a team project.

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Working in the same space can also boost an employee’s networking. This allows them to make connections easier and collaborate with colleagues more often.

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Will Bank of America’s Letter Work?

Previous efforts have not been enough to reach full compliance for their workers, so it’s not clear whether this latest round will solve the problem.

A team of women working in an office environment.

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Workers got into a habit of enjoying doing their work from home, and this habit may not be easy to break. As attempts to get workers back to the office get stricter, these companies may lose valuable talent for their forcefulness.

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