Employers mandate boosters, postpone return dates and brace for an Omicron surge.

Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, James Gorman, asked this week about employees returning to the office, said his projection about the pandemic subsiding was off. “I thought we would have been out of it past Labor Day,” Mr. Gorman said on CNBC. “And we’re not.”

Office workers this week watched as events unfolded that were at once familiar and jarring in their persistence: Covid case counts ballooned, and employer plans deflated. The United States is reporting an average of more than 120,000 new Covid cases each day, up 40 percent from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. New York City is experiencing a spike in cases larger than any since last winter. Employers that had been growing bolder in their plans — reopening offices, mandating or strongly suggesting that workers report back, promising holiday blowouts — are now scaling back their ambitions for in-person business and socializing, reports the New York Times

Jefferies, an investment bank, asked its 4,542 employees to work from home because of a spate of Covid cases. Goldman Sachs told its teams to postpone their remaining holiday parties, and JPMorgan Chase announced that its health care conference would go virtual. Citigroup, which had called people back two days a week starting in September, sent a memo giving its New York and New Jersey staff the option to work remotely, while Morgan Stanley employees were given more flexibility to stay home. And Apple delayed its office return indefinitely, the latest in a slew of employers that have conceded their corporate timelines are no match for the unpredictability of the virus.

“Since the start of December, Jefferies has experienced nearly 40 new Covid cases,” the chief executive, Rich Handler, and president, Brian Friedman, wrote in a memo to staff last week, in which the bank also required that anyone eligible who enters its offices or attends its events get a booster shot by the end of January. “Our priority now is to best protect every one of you and your families.”

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