Workforce Management: Caught in the hybrid cul-de-sac

The honeymoon period for hybrid working is over, the hopes of a new epoch in working practices has hairline cracks, and companies that embraced this new dawn are facing difficult decisions.

It is too simplistic to draw a line mid-Atlantic to define where banking and asset managers position themselves on workplace policies; those west of it steadfastly committed to staff being in the office, those east of it embracing hybrid working models.

American banks have largely remained committed from the outset of the pandemic to an all back in the office mantra, with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase CEOs David Solomon and Jamie Dimon commenting that working from home is an ‘aberration’ and ‘doesn’t work’ respectively. Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America’s policies are in line with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Citi is a lone star in the US amongst the bulge bracket banking community, with its CEO Jane Fraser, choosing to differentiate Citi by adopting a variant of hybrid working. Elsewhere in the Americas and north of the US border the Canadian banking community appears committed to hybrid working. 

The concerns that adopting a hard-line to return to work would make you uncompetitive in the market for talent do not appear to have come into being. Certainly, there has been some attrition, where lifestyle choices have been made, but workplace optionality as a differentiator has not created the tsunami of on-going resignations many expected. 

In Europe a more egalitarian approach has been adopted, with hybrid manifesting itself in significant flexibility in working patterns. The adoption of the principle that all staff deserve the right and equality in options and/or preferences for a working schedule play to a narrative that the norms in society have changed, accelerated by the pandemic. A return to pre-Covid practices would be received as being retrospective and tone-deaf.

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