Goldman Sachs against remote working: “it’s an aberration”

In this period of pandemic, millions of workers have been afraid to lose their jobs because of constant enclosures of any kind of activities and due to isolation. Nevertheless, technology has resulted to be a good solution to save a big number of workers.

There is a certain aversion towards remote work felt by Goldman Sachs, a leading company operating worldwide in investment banking, securities trading and investment management. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon defined working from home as something that cannot become a new normal. For him it would be necessary, by the summer, to return to work in the office, which is essential in order to obtain positive results. It is not new that, while many employees are happy not to put up with traffic or commute for some time, most employers continue to perceive remote working as a mere reflection of real work. In 2020, Goldman Sachs reached an average attendance rate of employees of its offices in New York and London of around 25%, but due to the new peaks of the virus this presence has dropped to around 10%.

Solomon said that “More and more activities are done digitally, but I am a firm believer in the importance of connections in a job like ours. […] I don’t think as we get out of the pandemic, the overall operating mode of the way a business like ours operates will be vastly different”.

What is evident is the determination to stop this revolutionary way of working and producing as soon as possible, abandoning the virtual internship of future analysts, in order to learn directly from the office desk. In particular, Solomon’s concern is with an incoming “class” of some 3,000 new recruits, deprived of the “direct mentorship” they would need. “I’m very focused on the fact that I don’t want another class of young people arriving at Goldman Sachs in the summer remotely,” he said. Although the pandemic has pushed towards the adoption of digital technologies and ways to make the investment bank work more efficient, these new methodologies cannot be used in the long term. “I don’t think that when we emerge from the pandemic, the general operating mode of the way a company like ours operates will be very different,” he said.

But Solomon is not the only one who thinks so. Jamie Dimon, CEO of Jp Morgan, also considers that “you don’t learn much by sitting at home”. Especially for newcomers, banking can only be learned by working in the field, supported by seniors. Jes Staley, head of the Irish bank Barclays, also hopes the vaccine will finally allow employees to return to the office.

However, not everyone is of the opinion that smartworking implies lower productivity. In fact, it seems that employees of Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter will have the possibility to choose whether to work in the office or from home permanently. But this could also have some negative consequences: Facebook said remote workers could receive lower salaries if they live in areas where the cost of living is lower than in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

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