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

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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.

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.

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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