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"Bank CEOs have zero idea about work from home in banking"

So David Solomon at Goldman Sachs is the latest bank CEO to reiterate that his people need to be in the office and that they need to be there full time, five days a week. 

Solomon is not alone in this, and the howls of protest across the industry are almost audible. 

Bank CEOs like Jamie Dimon, David Solomon, James Gorman and others can't relate to the daily work experience of their junior colleagues, especially now that the pandemic has shown that the work can be done without everyone being in the office five (or six or seven) days a week.

The CEOs commute to the office in a car driven by a personal driver/bodyguard, they generally take a private elevator to their office suite on a high floor with only a few other C-suite executives. They have private bathrooms, dining rooms, personal conference rooms, and perhaps even a place to take a nap or exercise, plus a full staff of people to get anything they want (meals, drinks, data, subordinates summoned for a chat on a moment's notice). And when they travel, it's by private plane with either family or whatever subordinates they want; everybody else flies commercial, and probably in coach.

This doesn't mean they're inaccessible. David Solomon set himself up in Goldman's Sky Lobby in 2021. In my experience Jamie Dimon has always been relatively accessible, but especially to outsiders: major clients, sell-side analysts, big shareholders, regulators. He returns phone calls and respond to emails. 

However, while CEOs say they're accessible to staff and welcome their outreach with constructive suggestions, they totally underestimate the psychological and social hurdle that any employee below the C-suite or a major business head has to overcome to decide to try to contact them directly. At the very least, what will your boss think if you go over his or her head to the CEO? How can you do that without permanently destroying your currently most important internal relationship?

Not easy.

Because of this, CEOs are out of touch. They think they can ask people to come back into the office without repercussions. I suspect they will find they are very wrong.

William Lawson is the pseudonym of a veteran banker

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AUTHORWilliam Lawson Insider Comment
  • Lo
    Louise
    15 September 2023

    It's a topic of heated discussion for those company cultures who are not in favour of any form of work-from-home policy which means the remote work from home technology infrastructure is not in place as well as the trusted environment for staff and bosses to work hand-in-hand together to achieve common business and team goals in such a working style.

  • Ms
    Ms2023
    15 September 2023

    Banks are doing better business, and better than before covid; we now have more security measures and tech in place that ever before to work remotely; and this will revolutionize the way we worked and our technology infrastructure better. In addition, from an ESG perspective, saving time and fuel lost in travel, less crowd on roads, in train stations and cafes, less shopping of expensive office attires, saving of office space and utilities, healthier home made food etc. People are less stressed and spend more time bonding with their families, working flexibly improving their mental health. Why are employers wanting to rollback everything and go back to basics; I cant see another reason than instilling corporate fear, and the hunger of seeking more control over people's lives and wanting them to see one another slog at office to want to do more to impress bosses and be part of the rat race.

  • Re
    Red
    30 August 2023

    what were people doing before pandemic? Why its such a big deal to come to the office now? Employees are just taking the piss now.

  • ft
    ftch
    29 August 2023

    I'm not sure I understand the argument here.

    The problem I see with CEOs pushing for RTTO is that now they chose to follow the masses in their ignorance of covid health risks even though nothing really has changed.

    I don't think those guys are misinformed or delusional, they are deliberately throwing their employees under the bus.

  • Sa
    Sarak
    26 August 2023

    A bit irrational argument about not being able to reach DS or any other CEO even if they are in the office, such big shots will never be reachable, that is how it worked, works and will as there might be people who really come with great ideas who want to speak directly and then there are some who just want to whine- so it is a good way to filter by restricting others. However, for ordinary ( not CEO ) type people I support David Solomon, people should work in the office, it creates engagements, collaboration and psychological aspect of seeing and talking to a real person is slightly different than on chats or Zooms. Younger Gen also need to learn in the office and not by working in silo/WFH, osmosis learning can be done via being with people, shadowing, copying, listening in real time ,not some virtual calls.

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