AmEx would be willing to help the city distribute vaccines to its employees, similar to how it has offered flu shots, Chief Executive Stephen Squeri said Thursday during an event held by Bloomberg. He said officials haven’t asked his firm for such help.
“The trick here is not to rush,” Squeri said. “I’m not rushing people back into the office.”
AmEx and many of its banking rivals across New York sent the vast majority of their workers home last year to stem the spread of Covid-19. Even with the advent of effective new vaccines, many employees are still working remotely—leaving large swaths of Manhattan’s business districts vacant.
“At the beginning I think there were some challenges with distribution, and as they started to work distribution out, we now have challenges with supply,” Squeri said. “Logistics is always tough.”
AmEx has been vocal about its need to offer flexibility to employees because many workers spent the year balancing work with their children’s schooling and caring for elderly relatives. The firm has said many of its workers rely on mass transit to get to the office.
Allowing employees to work from home until Labor Day will give AmEx the chance to monitor the speed with which vaccines are distributed, Squeri said in a memo to workers this week. The firm is still considering future work spaces.
“We are taking a thoughtful approach and developing a plan,” Squeri said in the memo. “My top priority is that everyone feels cared for and doesn’t feel pressured to come into the office.”
Squeri has called this a transitional year, as the firm continues to work its way through the pandemic, which has zapped spending on its cards. AmEx has jump-started efforts to acquire new customers in recent months after pulling back in the early days of the crisis.
As President Joe Biden’s administration takes over, Squeri said, he’s hopeful for an era of less political rancor. He’s also looking for improved relations with China, where AmEx is focused on expansion.
“We’re hoping that cooler heads prevail and that we do get to a détente basically with China,” he said, “and that we’re able to continue with growth.”