In the private sphere, many senior bank executives charged with increasing the attendance of their direct reports expressed anger. They said it was unfair for high-paid employees to continue working from home while others – like bankers or construction workers – dutifully come in every day. Salaries at investment banks in the greater New York area averaged $ 438,450 in 2020, up 7.8 percent from the previous year, according to data from the office of state auditor Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Two senior executives who refused to be named on personnel matters said they could oust subordinates who were unwilling to return to the office on a regular basis. Another manager expressed frustration at a worker who refused to show up at the office, citing concerns about the virus – despite the person having recently gone on vacation.
Executives “don’t feel like they can pressure to get people back into the office – and those who put pressure have had real opposition,” said Ms. Wylde of the New York City partnership. “Financial services are one of those industries that has tremendous competition for talent, so nobody wants to be the bad guy.” She believes that big financial firms will eventually drive workers back into the office by dangling wages and promotions.
For the time being, the banks resort to persuasion and pampering.
Occasionally there are food trucks, free meals and snacks, and free Uber and Lyft rides. Dress codes have been relaxed. Large companies have implemented security protocols such as on-site testing and masking requirements in public areas. Goldman, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup require vaccinations for workers entering their offices, while Bank of America only asked vaccinated employees to return after Labor Day. JPMorgan has not prescribed vaccines for employees to return to the office.
At Citi, which requested employees to work at least two days a week from September, the offices are around 70 percent occupied on the busiest days. Citi, whose managing director Jane Fraser started her job in the middle of the pandemic, has hired shuttle buses so employees traveling to midtown Manhattan from suburbs can avoid the subway to the bank’s downtown offices. To allay concerns about rising crime in New York, at least one other company has hired shuttle buses to take people a few blocks from Pennsylvania Station to midtown offices, Ms. Wylde said.
Remote working arrangements are also becoming an important consideration for employees applying for new positions, according to Alan Johnson, the executive director of Johnson Associates, a Wall Street compensation consultancy.
Traditional banks haven’t changed much, he said: “You have to dress up, it’s five days a week in the office, it’s just the 90s.” In contrast, younger companies offer much more flexibility when working from home and a relaxed office dress code.