JPMorgan finds younger staff working from home did less on Mondays and Fridays

Productivity fears and lack of interaction lead US's biggest bank to encourage workers back into the office

FILE PHOTO: A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, U.S., September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

A troubling pattern emerged as most of JPMorgan Chase’s employees worked from home to stem the spread of Covid-19: productivity slipped.

Work output by younger employees was particularly affected on Mondays and Fridays, according to findings discussed by chief executive Jamie Dimon in a private meeting with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analysts.

That, along with worries that remote work is no substitute for organic interaction, are part of why the biggest US bank is urging more workers to return to offices over the coming weeks.

“The WFH lifestyle seems to have impacted younger employees, and overall productivity and ‘creative combustion’ has taken a hit,” KBW’s Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a September 13 note to clients, citing an earlier meeting with Mr Dimon.

A JPMorgan representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

JPMorgan’s findings provide a data point in the debate over whether employees perform as well at the kitchen table as they do in the workplace, showing extended remote work may not be all it’s cracked up to be, at least for some job functions. While pre-pandemic studies found remote workers were just as efficient as those in offices, there were questions about how employees would perform under compulsory lockdowns.

JPMorgan last week told its most senior sales and trading employees that they would be required to return to their offices by September 21, the strongest move yet by a US bank to restaff its workplaces. Workers in other functions are also being encouraged to return, up to a maximum building capacity of 50 per cent in New York.

“Overall, Jamie thinks a shift back to the office will be good for the young employees and to foster creative ideas,” Mr Kleinhanzl wrote.