Goldman Sachs Post-Pandemic Attendance Creeps Back, Slowly

Goldman Sachs employees are slowly returning to the office, though attendance is nearly 30% lower than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, the investment bank’s Chief Executive Officer David Solomon told CNBC.

Current attendance rates sit between 50% and 60% in the U.S., compared to a pre-COVID rate of 80%, Solomon said. He noted that many more people are working from the office in Europe and Asia, where the rates are near 100% in cities not presently on pandemic lockdown.

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“We want people to generally come together,” said Solomon, who has pushed for a return to the traditional workspace. “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.”

After shuttering its 44-floor Manhattan headquarters during the recent Omicron wave, the company reopened the building on February 1. Unlike its competitors, including Citigroup and UBS, Goldman is not allowing employees to work from home indefinitely. Solomon has long insisted that hybrid work is an “aberration” that would be corrected.

The bank employs 50,000 people, half of them in their 20s, Solomon said. He cited a McKinsey report claiming that this demographic thrives on mentorship that is more easily accessed in the office than out as part of his reasoning for returning to the office.

To entice employees to leave their homes, Goldman has offered an array of perks. Last year, the company provided free lunch from an array of food trucks parked outside its Manhattan headquarters, for instance.

However, Solomon said that his campaign was “never as binary” as reports have 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.”

At the end of the day, the goal for Solomon and Goldman is to find the best possible way to keep employees happy and productive while maintaining and improving the firm’s elite performance.