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Morgan Stanley's New York headquarters. (Photo courtesy Morgan Stanley)

Morgan Stanley joined other U.S. banks, including Goldman Sachs, in telling employees that remote work, spurred by the pandemic, is finished and that they must return to the office.

As Covid-19 cases continue to decline in the U.S. amid vaccination efforts, CEO James Gorman told his New York staff that anyone who feels safe going out to a restaurant should return to the office, The Guardian reported, citing comments made by the executive at a financial-services conference organized by the bank on June 14.

The CEO said he was issuing a “very strong” message to staff to get back to their desks by Labor Day on Sept. 6.

“Make no mistake about it: We do our work inside Morgan Stanley offices. And that’s where we teach, that’s where our interns learn, that’s how we develop people,” Gorman added. “That’s where you build all the soft cues that go with having a successful career that aren’t just about Zoom presentations.”

The CEO warned staff they should not expect large paychecks if they work away from Wall Street.

“If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this: ‘I’m in Colorado … and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City.’ Sorry, that doesn’t work,” he said.

While he said he wasn’t “dictating” that bankers return to the office, Gorman didn’t mince words about where they should be on Sept. 6.

Goldman: Remote work an ‘aberration’

“I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office” on Labor Day, he said. “Then we’ll have a different kind of conversation.”

Gorman’s edict comes as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and other investment banks also begin recalling staff to in-person work.

Goldman Sachs began mandating that most of its employees at its New York City headquarters report to their desks on June 14, Bloomberg News reported.

Goldman CEO David Solomon in February decried remote work as an “aberration,” criticizing the popular form of work during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Bloomberg News.

“This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal,” Solomon said during a Credit Suisse Group AG conference, Bloomberg reported on February 24. “It’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”

JP Morgan Chase began opening its offices on May 17 to voluntary workers and will require a return, in rotations, in July, The New York Times reported.

CEO Jamie Dimon was elated in announcing the news, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings,” he was cited as saying.

Competitive edge?

Working from home “does not work for younger people, it doesn’t work for those who want to hustle, it doesn’t work in terms of spontaneous idea generation,” he said.

The Journal report added that Dimon said his bank had lost some business because rivals had visited a potential client in person and JPMorgan’s bankers hadn’t.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there was some pushback on the bank’s plans, but he didn’t back down.

“Yes, people don’t like commuting, but so what,” he said.

Other banks also are ending remote work for staff, including Citigroup, which will have about 30 percent of its North American workers in the office by the end of the summer, the Bloomberg report said.

Bank of America expects a return after Labor Day and Wells Fargo says staff should be at their desks on Sept. 6, the report added.

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