New York, NY, September 9, 2021 – The following two memos were sent this week to all American Express colleagues from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen J. Squeri:
HYBRID U.S. REOPENING DELAYED UNTIL JANUARY 24, 2022
Throughout the pandemic, our top priority has been your health and safety. Given the continued spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, the resulting updated guidance from the medical community to wear masks indoors and maintain distance even if you are vaccinated, as well as colleague concerns, it is not prudent nor practical to pursue our hybrid return to the office at this time.
Therefore, I have made the decision to postpone our hybrid return to the office in the U.S. until January 24, 2022, at the earliest.
As a reminder, just like in many markets around the world, our U.S. locations remain open for those who wish to come in or who cannot work effectively from home.
Outside the U.S., our RtO Steering Committee will continue to work with Country Managers and teams on the ground to make decisions on when to move forward with the hybrid reopening of locations in their markets.
I want to reiterate what I have said throughout this time: I am extremely proud of your hard work, resilience, and determination to back our colleagues, customers, and communities in the face of unprecedented challenges. As an organization, we have made tremendous strides in this environment, and we want to continue the efficiency, agility, flexibility, and progress we have made together in this virtual world.
Thank you for your patience, understanding, and resilience during this time.
A FLEXIBLE APPROACH TO OUR NEW WAY OF WORKING
We have made great progress working virtually these past 18 months, becoming more efficient and agile, while also having greater flexibility to balance our professional and personal lives. We don’t want to lose that. At the same time, I firmly believe that our culture – which is rooted in the relationships, collaboration, and connections that come from working together in person – is a critical component to our success, and we cannot walk away from this. In designing our future work model, our aim has always been to combine the best of both worlds – recapturing the enthusiasm, camaraderie, and relationship building of working together in person, while also retaining the flexibility and progress we have made together in this virtual world.
When we first announced the hybrid model in June, our intent was to ease everyone into coming back by starting with a set schedule and then transitioning over the course of a few months to an environment that would offer more choice for colleagues going forward. We were planning on using the fall to test, learn, and gather feedback and then provide those colleagues who wished to remain fully virtual or to have more flexibility the option to apply to do so early next year.
However, given the ongoing uncertainty of the current situation and the further delay in our return, we want to provide colleagues with more certainty about how and where they will work in the future. Therefore, we have decided that colleagues will be able to request more flexibility before our return versus having everyone start with a certain schedule and then allow for greater flexibility a few months later.
Over the coming weeks and months, each business unit will determine a framework, based on companywide guidelines, within which colleagues and their leaders will decide what new way of working approach works best for them, depending on business need, the role, and personal preferences. This will result in a range of outcomes for colleagues, which could include but is not limited to one or two days a week in the office, five consecutive days in the office each month, every day in the office, fully virtual (meaning they will not come into the office at all), etc. We expect that, ultimately, most colleagues will work in a hybrid scenario, meaning a mix of in office and at home, which is what we believe is best for our culture and what our surveys have shown is the preference for the vast majority of our colleagues.
As we said previously, those who had virtual or flexible arrangements before the pandemic will be able to keep them. Locations outside the U.S. will follow a similar approach, taking into account local regulations and nuances.
During this time, as we have shown repeatedly throughout our history, we have proven that we are an organization that can pivot when faced with unexpected circumstances and adapt successfully to change. It’s our strong culture, our resiliency, and our talented colleague base who continue to deliver for our customers that give me great confidence that we can move to this model now. It is an affirmation of our ongoing trust and belief in all of you.
The Executive Committee and I are currently working with our Colleague Experience Group to work out the details for implementing this more flexible new way of working, and we will share more information on the process for determining your future way of working by October 18.
We believe that this is the best path forward as we chart our course for the future, and for you and American Express to thrive.