If you clean it thoroughly, they will come.
As has been reported by Traders Magazine, both the New York Stock Exchange and Cboe Global Markets are re-opening and populating their trading desks and floors beginning earlier this week. And now, in the presumed wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and massive cleaning of buildings, firms and furniture, Triad Securities Corp, an agency-only brokerage located in downtown New York City is making preparations to open its 111 Broadway offices.
The firm will begin re-admitting employees in part beginning on June 15 when the New York Pause order is lifted. Prior to that, IT and Operations staff will go in on June 10th to change desk configurations and check equipment.
“The question was for us do we open over the summer, or wait until fall when there could be a vaccine,” began Triad Chairman Kevin Schultz. “I, for one, believe that the interaction that goes on every day and the relationships we build within our firm are irreplaceable. We are not an organization where everyone sits at their desks without speaking. We actively share ideas and test concepts frequently in impromptu discussions, often related to market activity. This ongoing live discussion and vetting has tremendous benefits for our clients who are seeking insight into particular securities as well as trends. We want to get back to that live interaction as soon as we can.”
The firm has been operating remotely since closing its offices on Friday, March13th. On the 16th Triad’s IT team workers moved its phone systems so it would work from our co-location site and we gave out office phones to about half of their employees. The 17th was the last day the office was open for work and the next few days were spent getting the rest of the workers office phones so we could use all of our lines.
Schultz said his goal is to get everyone, except the people with pre-existing medical conditions or the ones not ready to come into the office for any reason, 2-3 times a week to spend time with each other throughout the summer. That should keep the office no more than half full and also bring back the new normal. That said, the message from him continues to be: if you are not comfortable, do not come in!
So, here is the plan as it stands. First, send in an advance team of 2 or 3 IT personnel in early June to check on all computers and move desks farther apart so, even with a full house, people will be 6-10 feet away from each other.
“This will be a good test run for allowing more people to come into the office. Then we can move forward with 8-10 people out of 35 coming into the office for the first two weeks beginning June 15th, to correspond with the lifting of the New York Pause on that date,” Schultz said. “We are asking that none of our team use public transportation, as this can increase exposure, and we will pay for parking. I don’t see traffic being bad until at least September, since schools are out all summer, and I expect many people to still be working from home. Our group is an innovative bunch and keen to get back to the office, and I wouldn’t be much surprised to see some of our traders piloting a river boat to get here.”
The firm will set up its trading desks and operations on new 6 foot desks that we bought previous to this crisis, so already people are 4-5 feet apart, he added. Desks will be positioned 2 to 3 feet away from each other so one will be under 6 feet. Conference rooms for more formal meetings will be limited to the amount of people that can fit and still be 6 feet away.
“The building supplies us with nightly cleaning services and there will be new rules and regulations for buildings,” Schultz continued. “We will have extra hand sanitizer and wipes everywhere for people to wipe down their areas and all knobs and handles. The kitchen will remain closed for any food.”
He added Triad Securities is using the experiences it gained from prior crises, such as 9/11, along with input from team members, to hammer out a plan.
“In the last 25 years we have been through two life threatening disasters, 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. So, while a rapidly spreading virus, like Covid-19, has different impacts, we have honed our emergency response capabilities,” Schultz said.
Furthermore, Triad Securities’ staff will be asked to monitor themselves for fever and get tested for antibodies ASAP. The firm will also continue to monitor suggestions from the medical community and public health officials.
Is it enough? Schultz feels it but still recognizes some employee trepidation.
“We have said that people who do not wish to come in, can work from home for any reason. We are aware that people have different situations, some with children at home, or elderly relatives,” Shultz said. “Others though, are cleared to come in and are looking forward to it.”