Fewer Firms Require Full-Time Attendance
Low unemployment puts workers in the driver’s seat, postponing hoped-for boosts to the office market. On Wall Street, only 20% of firms require full-time office work.
NEW YORK – Fewer banks are requiring employees to be in the office five days a week, despite some Wall Street chiefs’ clamor to scrap remote-work arrangements.
Just 20% of financial-services companies require full-time in-office work, according to a new survey of 251 industry firms by Scoop, which helps companies coordinate hybrid teams. That’s down from 22% who said so the previous quarter. The share of banks that allow fully flexible remote-work options also decreased, the survey found, with more businesses moving to hybrid-work arrangements.
The findings show that Wall Street workers still enjoy a good deal of flexibility, despite increasing rhetoric from banking and civic leaders against working from home. Even JPMorgan Chase & Co., which told its managing directors last month that they now must be in the office every weekday, has most of its corporate staff on hybrid work schedules.
Other firms, like Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., have recently tightened their remote-work policies. Wells Fargo & Co.’s commercial real estate division has told its workers to come in at least four days a week or face possible “disciplinary action,” according to a recent memo. A Wells Fargo representative confirmed the shift.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has called for the city’s business leaders to agree on a minimum number of days that workers must commute in, an effort to boost office-occupancy rates that remain stuck at just under 50% of pre-pandemic levels and take a bite out of the $12 billion remote work costs the city’s economy annually. A separate survey from the Real Estate Board of New York, using data from Placer.ai, found that average building visitation rates in Manhattan for the first quarter of 2023 were 61% of 2019 levels and have declined over the past two quarters.
Hybrid work common in all markets
Across all industries, the share of 3,885 firms surveyed that deploy a hybrid plan with specific expectations on when employees come in rose to 30% from 20% in recent months, Scoop’s index found, as the popularity of both fully on-site and fully flexible policies declined.
About half of hybrid firms insist on three days a week office attendance, as Starbucks Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. have recently done, while 41% call for two days in.
“Employees are saying that we will not do fully on-site, and companies are saying that we are missing certain things with fully remote work, like training or collaboration,” Scoop Chief Executive Officer Rob Sadow said in an interview. “So two or three days a week seems to be a truce among companies and employees. It’s an uneasy happy medium.”
Firms like Walt Disney Co. that demand four days of office attendance are few and far between, with just 4% doing so.
“Company executives would rather be at three days than two, while workers would rather be at two,” Sadow said. “But four days is in the minority. A lot of people won’t even view that as a real hybrid plan.”
Workers craving more flexibility in where and when they work might want to look at smaller firms, Sadow said. Nearly two in three organizations with fewer than 500 employees allow workers to choose if and when they come into the office, compared with just 13% of firms with 50,000 or more employees.
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