Goldman Sachs boss labels home-working an ‘aberration’ that should stop

David Solomon warns new recruits are missing out on benefits of office life

David Solomon, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs & Co., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 29, 2019. The conference brings together leaders in business, government, technology, philanthropy, academia, and the media to discuss actionable and collaborative solutions to some of the most important questions of our time. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has described home working as an “aberration” that needs to end as soon as possible.

Less than 10 per cent of the investment bank’s 34,000 global staff are working in company offices - mirroring the shift to home-working across many companies since the pandemic swept around the world last year.

But Mr Solomon said the practice was not the “new normal” for Goldman Sachs as it did not suit the company’s work culture.

“That’s a temporary thing. I do think that for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible,” he told a Credit Suisse conference this week.

Mr Soloman’s push contrasts with some other company heads, who have suggested home-working could become permanent after the worst of the Covid-19 crisis is over.

HSBC said this week that it would cut its office space by 40 per cent to encourage more home-working, while rival Lloyds announced it would slash its own office footprint by a fifth.

A recent poll by recruiter Robert Half found 89 per cent of companies expect employees to split their working hours between the home and office after the pandemic.

Mr Soloman said he was particularly worried about new recruits missing out on face-to-face support if home-working became permanent.

“I’m very focused on the fact that I don’t want another class of young people arriving at Goldman Sachs in the summer remotely … that aren’t getting more direct contact, direct apprenticeship, direct mentorship,” he said.

He acknowledged that the pandemic prompted the investment bank to adopt digital services more quickly but he did not expect many more long-term changes.

“I don’t think as we get out of the pandemic the overall operating mode of the way a business like ours operates will be vastly different,” he said.

Mr Soloman’s views on home-working are supported by others in the finance sector.

JP Morgan has previously raised concerns about a small drop in productivity on Mondays and Fridays, while Barclays boss Jes Staley said home-working was “getting old”.

“I look forward to us being able to welcome colleagues back into the office. That will certainly happen sometime this year,” he said.

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