"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?
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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