Wall Street is Going Back to Wall Street

The angry march back to the office has begun

Remember that study that found 34% of people would quit if they had to return to the office? Well, that result is about to be tested. 

Both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have (somewhat angrily) announced a return to the office. 

In reporting by the New York Times, Goldman Sachs circulated an internal employee memo that said:

“We are focused on progressing on our journey to gradually bring our people back together again, where it is safe to do so,” said the memo, which was signed by David M. Solomon, the firm’s chief executive, as well as his two top lieutenants, John E. Waldron and Stephen M. Scherr. The executives said the bank was “now in a position to activate the next steps in our return to office strategy.”

According to CNBC, Jamie Dimon - the CEO of JP Morgan - had a slightly less PR-ified take:

“I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings,” Dimon said. “I’m done with it.”

The Times also reported that Citigroup is returning to the office, albeit only with about 30% of its workforce for the near-term. 

What’s in it for Wall Street?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the decision is being couched around money. Dimon said that the firm has lost deals because JP employees didn’t show up for a meeting in-person, whereas other bank employees did. There was no discussion about anyone’s safety presented in this context. 

Goldman Sachs, on the other hand, seemed to be more clear about health risks: according to the Times, only employees in the UK and US will return to the office next month. Employees in countries harder hit by the pandemic, like India, will still follow all required safety precautions. 

An error in judgment

Like Dimon, I agree that face-time is critical for many things.

What bugged me about his rant on going back to the office was this line: “[Remote work] doesn’t work for those who want to hustle.”

Excuse me?

Not hustle, you say? Like how productivity skyrocketed and people worked more when remote than they did in the office? That kind of hustle? 

It bugs me that Dimon thinks you can’t hustle if you aren’t hating your commute and wearing a suit that costs more than rent. I get in his world, he’s probably right. But this statement signalled just how out of touch Dimon is with anything but Wall Street. 

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