Back to the office melancholy: Does Wall Street turn a deaf ear to remote work? | Bank News

Mark is the vice president of a global bank, and his idyllic backyard can be seen from his home office in the suburbs of New Jersey. Between virtual meetings, he would take a quick break, contact his two elementary school students, and discuss dinner logistics with his wife.

“In general, working from home is great for our family,” Mark, who asked not to use his surname due to work problems, told Al Jazeera. “I feel that my work is more efficient because I don’t have to commute and I can enhance my work in a meaningful way at home.”

However, the newly achieved work-life balance will end this summer, when Mark is expected to be recalled to the office like many people in the US financial industry. The person in charge of a major Wall Street company made it clear that remote work will not work for them, and employees are forced to follow suit.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase assertion Earlier this month, working from home “doesn’t work for those who want to be busy” and predicted that “sometime in September or October, it will look the same as before.”

In the case of Goldman Sachs, it told its employees to “make plans to return to the office” in the US and the UK by June 14th.

Some American workers who have been at home for more than a year are called back to the office and now face the prospect of commuting again [File: Angela Weiss/AFP]

Mark does not work for Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase, but believes that the policies of the two major banks will set a precedent for the industry. Mark worried that he and his family would lose what they had achieved in the past year because he put on a suit and tie and traveled to and from New York City for nearly two hours.

“because [the commute], I know I won’t be there like I used to,” Mark said.

Mark is not only worried about his sanity sitting in traffic or on a train-he is also worried about how his wife will once again bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities because her part-time work arrangements are more flexible.

“I work a lot, but I am here,” he said of the past year and his children. “I know the name of their teacher; I can cook lunch. I think we are partners. I think we will lose it.”

‘Something is changing’

The remote work debate is unfolding outside of the financial world, because companies have created a way back to the office, and it is likely that some workers (such as those responsible for caring for the elderly and children) will leave. Some people worry that a corporate culture that favors those who work the longest in the office may also become popular again.

Last week, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani told the audience of The Wall Street Journal All Future Festivals, “Those who are the least dedicated are very comfortable working from home”.

His comments caused a rapid backlash-but also worried that he might express a self-evident attitude that prevails among managers.

It will reach the point where compensation will not become an indispensable driving force. If one company offers $1.2 million and another offers $1 million but offers the opportunity to work from home, then flexibility may win out when it comes to hiring top talent.

Aleksandar Tomic, Woods School of Advanced Studies, Boston College

However, experts say that the “new normal” surrounding remote work continues to shift, and exceptions will become the rule. For example, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs’ plans to resume work allow some employees to still work remotely according to their roles, and the occupancy cap means that in the foreseeable future, employees may rotate to the office on a mixed schedule.

“Big banks are calling people back, but you also see them shrinking their footprints, so things are changing,” Roy Cohen, executive coach and author of a survival guide for Wall Street professionals, told Al Jazeera.

Having said that, Cohen pointed out that face-to-face workplaces may have a competitive advantage over workplaces that offer completely remote options.

“If you are not inside the organization, it is almost impossible to understand the organization’s corporate culture,” Cohen said. “And you need to make sure you have senior people to lead and mentor. I think there will be some stumbling blocks as companies figure out what is effective and what their employees will accept.”

‘Flexibility may win’

The flip side of the coin is that the company may also have to prove to employees why they need to stay in the office after working remotely for more than a year. Cohen also saw this dynamic in conversations with coaching clients.

“I have a client who believes his company will support a mixed schedule,” he said. “He knows he is valuable, he knows his bank will try to keep him.”

Alexander Tomic, associate dean of strategy, innovation and technology at Boston College’s Woods School of Advanced Studies, believes that remote friendly options will continue to be a hot spot for talent retention, especially when it comes to recruiting management-level talent.

“I don’t think the company will have a problem recruiting entry-level employees [to work onsite], But I think things get complicated when you are looking for talent,” Tomic told Al Jazeera.

“It will reach the point where compensation will not be an essential driver. If one company offers $1.2 million and another offers $1 million but has the opportunity to work from home, then flexibility may win out when it comes to hiring top talent. “

The pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in people’s expectations of the workplace, and workplaces that truly sympathize with employees seem to be emerging.

Lauren Pasquarella Daley, catalyst

Tomic’s prediction was echoed by statistics. According to a survey conducted by management consulting firm McKinsey of more than 5,000 American employees across the United States, nearly one-third of employees want to work full-time remotely, and more than one-quarter of employees said that if their organization resumes full-scale work, they will consider Change employers. Field work.

But, of course, many workers do not weigh millions of dollars in job opportunities.

Tomic believes that strict “return to office” tasks may have a disproportionate impact on women, parents, and minorities. These people may have been less valued at work in the past and may be transferred to support full-time, full-time, The position of a person who works on time. On-site employment.

Moreover, if the idea of ??linking performance with existence persists, these workers may also lose promotion opportunities or raise wages, he said

“I don’t think the problem will be that you can work from home, but that you can really make progress at home,” Tomic said.

‘This huge unknown’

In this way, the greatest uncertainty may be those who can choose to continue working remotely or return to the office.

“I think this is a huge unknown,” Laura, who works for a technology company in New York City, told Al Jazeera that she did not want to use her last name due to the sensitivity of her employer. “I think on the one hand, we were told that we had a choice. On the surface, it seemed great. But then I wondered: Is this a real choice? In a sense,’return to work’ The task of making things easier because you know what to expect of yourself.”

Catalyst is a global non-profit organization focused on building equality and inclusiveness for women in the workplace. Its research found that although all parents are responsible for increasing productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, mothers are the ones who suffer the most. [File: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg]

Laura is already under pressure. Her manager told her team that he hopes they will return to the office in early June.

Laura has two children aged 5 and 9 who are attending a mixed school in Jersey City, New Jersey. She said it was “impossible” to find childcare for them in the last two weeks of school.

She said her manager told her that they “may” find some leeway, which puts Laura under a lot of pressure and is not sure whether the “special exemption” to continue working remotely will result in missed opportunities.

Women have been disproportionately affected by the balance between distance learning and work load.

Catalyst is a global non-profit organization focused on building equality and inclusiveness for women in the workplace. Its research found that although all parents are responsible for productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the mother who suffers the most.

A kind Catalyst-CNBC poll It was found that 41% of mothers (and 36% of fathers) believed that they had to conceal their difficulties in caring for their employers, especially parents worried that if the company needed to downsize, they would be the first to be fired.

“Women, parents and people of color have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic,” Lauren Pasquarella Daley, senior director of Catalyst Women and Future Work, told Al Jazeera.

“I think that when companies are considering their return to work plan, we are considering two things: first, the organization will not create two-tier jobs, some people will gain an advantage when working in the office; second, because they may not be able to access Workers with remote work options increase and build flexibility,” she said.

Daly explained that this means using technology as a way to allow shift workers to control their time and schedule.

Daly also believes that some companies that have a clear timetable for “resumption of work” may not be culturally compatible.

“The pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in people’s expectations of the workplace,” she said, “and workplaces that are truly compassionate to employees seem to be emerging.”

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