Wall Street begins to explode the dream of working from home
Among other rapidly evolving things, JPMorgan Chase & Co. has already started to fill its skyscraper on Madison Avenue while its head office on Park Avenue is under construction. The nation’s largest bank has asked all U.S. employees to prepare to return early next month, but the tower will still be capped at 50 percent occupancy.
Elsewhere in Midtown, senior Bank of America executives began to make their way into the office. The company does not expect a larger return of staff before the fall.
“We are focusing on the vaccinated,” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said in an interview on CNBC today. “But we have to make sure that the unvaccinated can come back in a constructive fashion.”
The bank recently started asking employees to disclose their status and now has tens of thousands of people in the United States who have been shot. These employees are invited to return and are given 30 days notice. Across the industry, many are eager to return. Moynihan said he was at a wedding this weekend and spoke to a “group of young children” who work for competitors. “They are tired of working in their rooms.”
Morgan Stanley’s return to power policy remains flexible, at least until Labor Day in September, CEO James Gorman said at a virtual conference hosted by the bank on Monday. If people aren’t back in the office by then, Gorman would be “disappointed,” he said.
Deutsche Bank, which also offers leeway, has asked New York investment bankers to plan to operate from their offices no later than after Labor Day. Credit Suisse Group told fully vaccinated employees in New York that they could also start returning home on Monday, although not all employees will return to full-time work until September.
“Overall, people will be returning to the office,” said Alex Howard-Keyes, vice president of staffing firm Kingsley Gate Partners, specializing in the financial services industry. “If you’re a big risk taker, there will be pressure to get you back to the office full time. If you are more in touch with the customer, I guess there will be a certain degree of leeway.
That same divide is expected to happen in other industries and cities across the United States soon, as companies, from tech giants like Facebook to automakers like General Motors, have all promised workers more remote work at the workplace. to come up.
In New York City, where about 46% of residents were fully immunized on Friday, the fate of the economy rests on Wall Street. The state has long estimated that one in ten jobs in the city is directly or indirectly tied to the securities industry, which also accounts for one-fifth of private sector wages in New York City.
Further behind the scenes, banks and their technology partners are crafting more fundamental long-term changes to how the industry operates. They build on the lessons leaders learned when Manhattan companies suddenly had to work remotely. It turned out to be surprisingly doable.
Now even banks keen to replenish Manhattan towers are working on plans to move more of those jobs to other cities – a concept dubbed the “distributed trading floor.”
Businesses that once had to be run from New York will increasingly be run from low cost living states such as Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Many tech talent prefer to live in these places anyway, said Likhit Wagle, general manager of global banking and financial markets at IBM.
“A successful trader now has to be someone who really knows how to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Wagle. “These types of people are not available in London, New York or Frankfurt. They have strong opinions on the balance between work and lifestyle, and many of them have indicated that they are not ready to relocate.
For now, bankers are returning to offices that look very different from what they left behind in March 2020.
Tall plastic barriers cut between desks while some chairs in conference rooms have been blocked off to encourage social distancing. Disinfection stations are also common. Masks may not be required for employees who are fully immunized, but daily health checks often will be.
Good indoor air quality is now one of the most sought-after amenities by companies looking for office space, said Julie Whelan, global head of occupant research at real estate services firm CBRE. She jokes that many clients have become hobbyist HVAC specialists, focusing more on ventilation systems than on fitness facilities and access to public transportation.
“The things that were driving the adoption of buildings – they’re all at the bottom of the list,” Whelan said.