Morgan Stanley CEO says he was wrong on return-to-office push: 'Everybody's still finding their way'

Morgan Stanley CEO says he was wrong on return-to-office push: 'Everybody's still finding their way'

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman walked back an edict that employees should be back at the office by now and issued a new forecast for how long companies would delay the return.

“I was wrong on this,” he told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost Monday on “Closing Bell.” “I thought we would have been out of it past Labor Day and we’re not.”

In June, Gorman told conference attendees that he would be “very disappointed” if his workers hadn’t returned to Morgan Stanley buildings by Labor Day. Those plans, widely covered by the media, were derailed in part by the discovery of the omicron Covid variant. Companies from Lyft to Ford have had to delay and reassess return-to-office plans in recent weeks.

“I think we’ll still be in it through most of next year,” Gorman said. “Everybody’s still finding their way and then you get the omicron variant; who knows, we’ll have pi, we’ll have theta and epsilon, and we’ll eventually run out letters of the alphabet. It’s continuing to be an issue.”

Still, more than half of Morgan Stanley employees have been back at the firm’s New York headquarters, home to the bank’s trading operations, Gorman said. About 65% of vaccinated employees have returned to that building, and 95% of employees have gotten the jab, he said.