The bankers who love being back in the office
Today is the day. Following another period of homeworking inspired by Omicron, most banks are asking staff back into their offices. As we noted last week, not everyone is happy with this, but some people really are.
In our recent lifestyle survey, it became apparent that while a lot of people in financial services don't enjoy working in the office, for some the return to banks' own buildings will come as a distinct relief. While homeworking has given people an opportunity to create a new kind of life, that life has its disadvantages.
"There's no interaction with colleagues, less visibility on strategy and no conversations with MDs," reflected one credit salesman in his late 20s in London on his time at home. However, a female M&A banker in her early 20s said she was getting exposure to MDs - and that it was the wrong kind. "MDs aren't travelling when they're at home, so they just have back to back meetings. This means they want more and more materials but with the same resource pool, but they also want juniors to step up and spend more time with clients," she said. "As a junior, you are then stretched from the perspective of both content product and clients, and it's a living nightmare." One Singaporean technologist noted that working from home was blighted by a lack of peer support, by longer hours and by a heavier workload.
The downsides aren't just exhaustion, people responding to our survey also complained of sterility and dehumanization. "Unless you look directly into a person's face and communicate, you cannot feel the delicate emotions you can pick up with your other senses," said one junior ECM banker. A 40-something male M&A banker described homeworking as "claustrophobic." - "I am much more productive and positive in the office," he reflected.
For many people, therefore, returning to the office on a part-time basis at least is a welcome change. People responding to our survey also told us they love the energy in the office, that they're more efficient there, and that the office introduces some welcome differentiation between home-life and working-life. Several people also suggested that the risk of catching COVID in the office is minimal: "I'm triple vaxxed," said one; "I'm double vaxxed and I've had COVID," said another. "We have no choice, and we need to learn to live with this virus," reflected a female technologist in Asia.
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