Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon‘s campaign to summon more of his employees back to the office is a work in progress that could take years, he said.
In-person attendance at U.S. offices is between 50% and 60%, down from a pre-Covid figure of roughly 80%, Solomon told CNBC’s David Faber on Monday. That figure is higher in European offices and 100% in Asian cities that aren’t on lockdown, Solomon added.
“We want people to generally come together,” Solomon said. “It’s going to take some time, you know; behavior shifts take time generally, and I think over the course of the next couple years, our organization will generally come together.”
Solomon has been one of Wall Street’s leading voices in trying to bring his people back to the office; he’s called the remote work era “an aberration” that he would correct as soon as possible.
While rivals CEOs at JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have made similar comments, the ongoing push and pull at Goldman has gotten the most attention. Last year, the investment bank set up an array of food trucks outside its Manhattan headquarters and gave employees free meals to entice them to return.
But the figures cited by Solomon are not much higher than the 50% attendance reported for the bank’s New York headquarters back in February, when the firm made a renewed push after the latest wave of Covid subsided.
Fully half of the bank’s roughly 50,000-person workforce are in their 20s, Solomon said. He cited a McKinsey report stating that Gen-Z workers crave more mentorship, which presumably happens more in an office environment than in remote settings.
Media reports last month cited Solomon’s efforts to have workers return five days a week, and subsequent reports indicated some junior bankers were unhappy with their attendance being tracked by management. However, a person with knowledge of the bank said those reports were overly simplistic, focused on a handful of hard-to-verify complaints and that employees have more flexibility than is portrayed.
“You waged a public campaign, it would seem, to have people show up five days a week,” Faber said. “It feels like you lost.”
Solomon said Monday that his campaign was “never as binary” as reports made it seem.
“I have always had a view that’s been rooted in flexibility and taking care of our employees,” he said. “It’s been portrayed sometimes as much more dogmatic than it is.”