The implications of these choices, and the resulting stratification of policies will likely ripple through the world of finance and out to Main Street in the coming months.
Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are taking hardline approaches, requiring employees to come into the office five days a week.
Banks like Citi are responding by offering Zoom-free Fridays, Citi Reset Day, an annual firmwide holiday, and hybrid work for those who want it.
Tom Naratil, President of UBS Americas, said his program will “appeal to a more diverse pool of applicants and increase employee retention,” giving the bank a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive landscape. “We recognize the world has changed and we continue to adapt so that we can deliver the best for our clients and our people,” he said.
Some banks don’t agree with that stance. They’re betting that hybrid work is a pandemic-era flash in the pan.
“Bringing our employees safely back to the office is core to our apprenticeship culture and client-centric business,” said Andrea Williams, Goldman Sachs global head of media relations. “What’s clear through the process is that we are better together than apart, especially as an employer of choice for those in the beginning stage of their career.”
About 75% of Goldman Sachs staff is a Millennial or Gen-Zer.
So far, Goldman’s bet is paying off. The bank’s summer internship program saw a record 236,000 applicants in 2022, a 17% increase from 2021 and 202,000 full-time first-year applicants, a 27% increase year-over-year.
Goldman was one of the only firms to hold an in-person program for summer interns in 2021 and will do the same this year.
“A lot of us have gone into the mindset of ‘Jobland’,” Gorman said. “Well if you’re in ‘Careerland,’ you need to be around other people to learn from them a bit.”
We’re in the middle of a restarting phenomenon, said Steven Davis, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The nature of work will become stratified — companies will decide where they stand on hybrid work and workers will sort themselves based on their own preferences.
lack of diversity
The problem is that older workers, women, and workers of color have expressed stronger preferences to work from home or in a hybrid setup. That means companies that require their employees to commute into the office full time may end up lacking diversity on their teams.
“If you let everybody choose what they want to do, it looks like women and minority group members will spend less time on the worksite than men and white employees,” said Davis. “People seem to like the workplace less when they are in a distinct minority. And it’s not just about gender, race and ethnicity. It also shows up with respect to political persuasion, and religious beliefs.”
This could make the workplace “an even less minority-friendly place.” he said. “Individual worksites might become more homogeneous.”
The bottom line
“Because of the progress we’ve made fighting Covid, Americans can not only get back to work, but they can go to the office and safely fill our great downtown cities again,” President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union address.
The proof, said Davis of the Booth school, is in the pudding (or in this case, the patents). The share of new patent applications that advance work from home technologies has been following an upward trajectory since the onset of the pandemic.
That improved technology will be a force in supporting “a new equilibrium where many organizations do have hybrid work as an important feature of their working arrangements,” he said.
correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when Citi announced its hybrid plan. The announcement was made in March 2021.