By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall
(Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> is asking thousands of U.S. employees to spend a day working from home in the coming weeks to test its contingency plans should the coronavirus spread, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters.
This week the bank may also begin sending teams of traders to work from secondary office locations in Brooklyn, New York, and nearby in New Jersey, to test its systems and ensure that any kinks are worked out should the bank need to roll out emergency plans more broadly, one of the sources said.
The largest U.S. bank by assets is testing these contingency plans now because, if the coronavirus spreads further in the United States, it would need to separate employees of the bank’s many business lines to ensure that most business could continue as usual, one source said.
The bank began asking managers of each of its four main businesses to select employees and ask them to work from home starting last week.
Managers in the consumer & community banking division, which includes Chase bank and employs more than 120,000 people, have asked around 10% of employees to work from home a day this week. The corporate and investment bank employees were asked last week.
The project was code-named “Project Kennedy”, Bloomberg first reported on Tuesday.
Big U.S. banks have been rolling out contingency plans to respond to the global virus outbreak — requiring some staff to work from home, implementing travel restrictions and talking to regulators about potential stresses. European banks are doing the same and also splitting shifts and isolating some teams.
Last week on Thursday, JPMorgan told employees it was restricting all but essential international work travel due to the continued spread of the virus.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall in New York and Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Lisa Shumamker)