Concern about young bankers and lost productivity on Mondays and Fridays is fueling JPMorgan's return to the office as other companies embrace remote work permanently

Workers are reflected in the windows of the Canary Wharf offices of JP Morgan in London September 19, 2013.REUTERS/Neil Hall
  • JPMorgan said last week that staff in its sales and trading division would return to the office beginning September 21.
  • In conversation with an analyst, CEO Jamie Dimon said the move was largely fueled by productivity slips on Mondays and Fridays, as well as a need for more "organic interaction."
  • All companies, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, have had to think about their long-term use of office space as a result of the pandemic, with some telling workers they can be remote forever.

As many companies embrace remote work for the long haul, JPMorgan is bucking a trend by ordering sales and trading staff back to the office this month.

It's a bid to increase productivity across the board after the bank saw a dip, "particularly on Mondays and Fridays" bookending weekends, and to spark more organic creativity among younger bankers, CEO Jamie Dimon told an analyst last week.

"While the CEO is hopeful that the good aspects of the WFH shift can continue, he also has seen a number of drawbacks," Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said in a note to clients Monday.Advertisement

"The WFH lifestyle seems to have impacted younger employees, and overall productivity and 'creative combustion' has taken a hit," he continued, because "organic interaction tends to foster knowledge and ideas and that has suffered from the shift to WFH."

The COVID-19 pandemic, which sent JPMorgan's bankers home in March, has forced companies from Wall Street to Silicon Valley to broadly re-think how they view office space. Twitter, at one end of the re-imagination spectrum, has told workers they can now work remotely forever, while others like REI and Amazon opt for more de-centralized approaches.

In finance specifically, fewer than half of banks and brokerages plan to let their workforce remain at home long-term, FIS found in its survey of 250 firms. Only 26% responded they were "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to maintain remote working in the long term.
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