Staggered starts, backup offices: How traders are working amid the coronavirus pandemic

Bank of America has sent more than 100 employees to work in a backup office in Connecticut.
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As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts routine working around the world, companies across the financial sector are having to find more agile ways of operating. 

While many global companies are telling all staff to work from home, for some banking roles, this isn't possible. Traders, for example, often deal with sensitive data, requiring workstations and technology that meet certain compliance standards and cannot be used at home. 

Goldman Sachs' blue and white teams

In an office memo sent to employees Thursday, seen by CNBC, investment bank Goldman Sachs said it was fully activating its "business continuity planning" (BCP) strategies on a global basis from next week. 

Some employees would be working from an "assigned fixed location," meaning they would either work in one of its main buildings or a BCP site without rotation, until further notice. 

Other workers at the bank would be assigned to either a "blue or white" team that would alternate weekly between working from home and in one of its main offices. 

In addition to other protective hygiene measures, Goldman Sachs also recommended that staff limit the size of gatherings with colleagues to no more than 20 people. 

This follows the news last week that the investment bank had sent around 200 employees in its London office to test out a contingency site in Croydon, on the outskirts of the U.K. capital. 

JPMorgan, Citi, Bank of America

Other investment banks have been implementing similar measures, including JPMorgan Chase, which started moving half of its sales and trading staff in both New York and London to backup offices near each city last week. 

It has also implemented split working arrangements between employees' homes and offices in some European cities. 

Citigroup bank has opted to send hundreds of its sales and trading staff from its Manhattan headquarters to a backup site in Rutherford, New Jersey. It had also reportedly split its entire North American staff into two groups, alternating their shifts between the office and other locations. 

Meanwhile, Bank of America has sent some employees further afield, with more than 100 employees now working in an outpost in Connecticut.

Group lunch deliveries

Kevin Curry, chief revenue officer for ReedGroup, a U.S. technology firm that deals with leave of absences, said he had also seen companies rotating on "red shift/blue shift" schedules. 

He told CNBC that the firms he worked with were implementing other strategies for people still working in the office, such as asking staff to pitch in with extra cleaning of "high-touch surfaces" like copiers. 

Buying group lunch deliveries from a single vendor was another method he said was being used by companies, as well as putting up signs asking people to wash their hands when they arrived at work before sitting down at their desks.

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