We should be embracing remote work

With the majority of companies (across most sectors) forcing white collar workers back to the office thought I would share my thoughts on why this is such a stupid idea and outline how remote work could help alleviate many of the major problems facing the West.

  1. Probably the most obvious but requiring workers to move to large expensive cities pushes up rent prices to insane levels to the point where even the most well comped junior employees need to get roommates. Remote work would allow people to live wherever they want in the county, boost the economy of a lot of tier 2/3 cities, and save and invest more of their pay check.

  2. The vacant office space in prime locations like NYC/SF etc. can be converted to apartments quickly creating more supply in an extremely tight market.

  3. Childcare costs are also insanely high ($2k+ per month) and with more and more dual income households remote work allows couples to save money and actually raise their kids themselves instead of sticking them in some daycare.

  4. Requiring millions of people to commute dozens of miles on a daily basis is a huge source or emissions and the same companies that wax poetic about net zero want their employees racking up thousands of miles so they can have water cooler talks.

  5. There are a lot of health and wellbeing benefits to not commuting and working in a bland office all day. It saves people a ton of time and allows them to do stuff like exercise, hobbies, volunteering etc. Happier and well rested workers are more productive and focused.

I’m honestly all in on remote work and wish corporate execs and government officials would see all of the benefits it brings.

Buildings lose value if people WFH because there's less demand for that building.

That's it, that's the reason.

I don’t think you’re appreciating what the office conversions would actually entail. It’s way more expensive than just converting parcel use. A lot of buildings would not be up to code for various reasons and would need need significant gutting/renovations to even get started. It’s a meme more than anything else.

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But if everyone works from home, how can the old ass senior people who can't generate revenue rationalize their existence? Gotta think about them. 

I used to be very pro in-office, because I truly believe it's the best environment for younger folks to learn. Then I realized they don't give a flying fuck about learning anything, so I'd rather be at home. 

Dude your response is so on point it hurts. The old "I always had to be in office and Im too old to change now.." logic is what is killing our ability to have autonomy over where we work

Throw in the fact that it is the SINGLE MOST VALUABLE PERK A COMPANY CAN PROVIDE FOR FREE and it has me shaking my head at all these companies that cant figure it out. 

Sometimes I get email from recruiters asking if I want to return to IB for a firm that has a "mandatory 4-5 day in office policy"? I would much rather take an FP&A 1 analyst role for 70k than do that shit, are you kidding me. 

I think hybrid (3/2) is the way of the future. WFH is incredibly isolating, especially in a high-hour role where you're at the computer during all of your waking hours and my team feels way more productive when we're in the office. The learning is also very hard remote, our 2020 analysts honestly never ramped up the same way that a 2018 analyst did (even though they had way more deal flow... simply didn't learn the quick tricks they'd pick up watching the others in the office)

Most of the juniors who worked 2020-early 2021 were begging to go back to the office (my BB had huge signups for the first voluntary RTO) because full remote is just so challenging and isolating in IB.

Agreed. Love hybrid myself, especially when the team allows for flexibility to not come in when things really do pick up or calls / meetings make it inconvenient to come in. I'm not introverted enough to want to be stuck working w/o any live human interactions with my coworkers - onboarded for a role during COVID fully remote and hated it, so hard to pick things up and you feel like just a face on a screen w/ weaker relationships w/ your coworkers. And you really can't beat the dynamism of everybody being in the same room together sometimes. 

4-5 days per week mandatory is a little archaic, but I think I'd personally rather do a mandatory 5 days in-office role than fully remote (recognizing that's probably a minority view on this forum).

I am the biggest fan of complete autonomy and the ability to WFH 5 days a week if that is your preference, but it is hard to discredit the inherent benefits of working in person. When brainstorming and most importantly, learning the right ways of operating, being in person makes so much sense. 

What smart leaders will start to do is to request employees that typically WFH to come in when it actually makes a difference. Are you taking a first pass at a CIM and youre a Y2 analyst with deep (relatively) industry expertise? probably can rip through that exercise from home. But if you're a first year analyst putting together your first CIM, you will operate 100x more efficiently if you can sit in close proximity to your Associate and ask for tips, time savers, templates, and what certain VPs / MDs like to see. 

In other words, management needs to have the foresight to enforce in office when appropriate, but also the flexibility to allow employees to work where they like when they are operating efficiently and making minimal mistakes. As you get more senior, coming in for networking and client interactions becomes critical, but at the junior level when youre just churning out work it is important to treat quality employees appropriately. 

Senior executives don’t care about #1,2, 3,4,5. They don’t care about junior lives being better they care about the bottom line and having power over their employees. Your five points are all negatives from the executive point of view. They want rent to go high so their RE holdings appreciate and do not want to see the supply of housing to massively increase which would bring the value of the RE they hold down.  They want to have the power to force you to commute. They want you to spend more on a variety of products including childcare and healthcare so their portfolio increases in value. Corporations and leadership care about the bottom line not your well being. 


If the success of the executives is dependent upon the suffering and inconvenience of the rest of the population, then there is something clearly wrong with the way the system operates

You’re PREACHING to the choir here. I started my banking career during COVID and was fully remote for first 15 months. Been back into the offfice consistently 3 days a week for the past few months now. Prior to that, I was half-assing RTO and making any excuse I could to not show up. I can honestly say 90% of the time, coming into the office is a waste. The only benefit for me is that I have noticed my social soft skills have improved a great deal. However, I’m way less efficient in the office. I used to be able to crank out crazy volume during in 2021 when I was WFH. That’s when I established my rep on the team as someone who can handle a lot of work efficiently. Now in the office, I’m lucky if I can complete a series of task while at my desk. There’s too many distractions - conference calls, water cooler talk, having to get lunch, etc. Then there’s the commuting factor and how much lunch/dry cleaning/office clothes adds up to. It’s exhausting. 

Then we have our division head pushing for us to come in 4-5 days a week. It’s super inconsiderate because he/she rakes in millions and has company perks such as a driver/paid parking. My firm was a sweet situation cause I wasn’t super highly paid but it was comfortable with no office mandate. If I gotta come into the office, I might as well go somewhere that will pay me much more. 

Last point: fuck all the office owners who want to be in denial and act like office space won’t decline going forward. They’re spreading fear amongst large companies and cities that if people don’t go into the office then cities will lose their vibrancy/tax revenue because of reduced office demand.  They’re a big reason for companies forcing people back into office. Just admit failure in that you invested in the wrong asset at the wrong time. Cut your losses and move forward. 

Regarding your last paragraph what you’re saying is the correct thing to do. But we just need to recall the 2008 crisis to see that not only did Wall Street act in denial over investing in the wrong investments but they bribed the government for hundreds of billions of dollars in security buybacks, loans, and grants, much of which hasn’t been paid to this day. 

It’s the same thing with the labor shortage. Instead of raising salaries, management will repeat “Nobody wants to work” and talk about how “lazy Gen Z is (when in reality finance is a dying industry that bright people don’t want to work for admire) instead of just accepting that the labor market has shifted. 


Reading the comments, I'm frequently hearing two reasons why decision-makers insisted on a return to the office:  

1) They want to protect office building property values: this one doesn't make any sense.

2) Boomers clinging to tradition: maybe, but this isn't compelling.  These are CEO level decisions.  These guys are bottom-line oriented and place high priority on winning the talent war.  They're not going to waste money on office space and piss off their young talent for a flimsy reason like "this is how its always been."  If anything, most of them are too biased toward chasing the latest trends and trying to appear ahead of their time.

I think the reality is something real was being lost with WFH . . call it culture, or interaction, or mentorship or whatever.  And it was becoming a big enough problem to at least move to hybrid in most cases.

100% agree on the culture aspect. 

However, and I know this is a limited sample size, the analysts here lathered themselves into a frenzy when I said it in a previous comment. 

Something has happened, and anecdotally you see it with the litany of "why do analysts suck nowadays" posts, where the job is just a job and they can snake themselves into other roles without learning or caring too much about their present role.

I'm defeated (especially at my place) and have basically stopped teaching the junior guys, way too much of a burden and I know I'm not the only one. It feels horrible, but I'm tired of doing all nighters to help people who will never get up the curve.

I agree with your point regarding culture. I myself find office work much less isolating and enjoyable (a quick convo takes max. 5 minutes). Besides, the office is much nicer than my small flat anyways 

  1. "The vacant office space in prime locations like NYC/SF etc. can be converted to apartments quickly creating more supply in an extremely tight market."

This is not true. Office to multifamily conversions are difficult, with the economics not working out most of the time. From a simple architectural standpoint, it is not feasible/"quick" to convert large office towers (think of the skyscrapers in Midtown that have football field sized floors) into residential apartments. The floorplans make it difficult to create apartments that have sufficient exterior lighting, and the cost to convert the plumbing and ventilation systems from one central to sub metered is very expensive. Not to mention the additional costs needed to conform to a litany of building and fire codes. People like to use Harry Macklowe's One Wall Street as an example for supporting office to multifamily conversions, but this argument is invalid for a couple of reasons:

1. If you look at the exterior of the building, One Wall Street had a layout that allowed them to create floorplans that have sufficient exposure to outside lighting as a pre WWII building

One Wall Street Becomes Condos - The New York Times

This doesn't apply for the vast majority of NYC office buildings, built mostly out of glass and steel post WWII (especially in Midtown). Take for example 1251 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown. It's large, rectangular design representative of most Midtown office towers makes it almost impossible to split floors up into sub-units that make sense from a design perspective. For the economics to work for class B apartments you would need to create X amount of units at a certain price, but these floor plans would be trash. Imagine apartments that resemble a long hallway with a window at the end, where only one part of your apartment has exterior lighting. 

1251 Avenue of the Americas - The Skyscraper Center

The way to get around this is to create much larger floorplans and convert as luxury condos. This is what Macklowe did on at 1 Wall Street, and that was using a building with architecture ideal for such a conversion, and even he ran into significant issues leasing out the units/making the numbers work.


So your argument about remote work improving housing supply in a tight market is a little off because 

- You can't quickly convert office to multi (1 Wall St's conversion project took 8 years)

- The vast majority of office buildings simply wouldn't work for this

- The ones that you could convert almost always have to be sold as luxury condos to meet pro forma numbers, which doesn't really solve housing affordability that is plaguing the U.S

Me personally, I like being in person in the office as a junior analyst. In comparison to my friends who do mostly remote work, my learning curve has been way less steep (I can just walk three yards to my associate's desk with a question or to go over a model, etc). Being in person has allowed me to meet way more people in my industry just by being in the office when they have a meeting with one of our partners or other similarly serendipitous situations. I have been able to progress much quicker and be trusted with higher level work because it's easier to develop a rapport and trust with someone when you're working with them everyday  - it's impossible to replicate this with a 100% WFH model IMO.

I find it interesting how the pendulum has swung back on young professionals in banking/finance's view of remote work from the beginning of the pandemic. A lot of my friends who started remote after graduating in 2020 wanted to get back into the office after a couple of months WFH in their parents' house, and a lot of them felt they were more behind on the desk than if they had started in person. People felt that they were missing out on a great transitional point in their youth, that period in your early 20s when you're out of college and exploring the world/figuring out who you were as an adult, and really missed the social aspect that WFH can't replicate.

Don't get me wrong - I think hybrid is the way of the future. I'm the type of person who likes to go into the office to really get work done, but like the flexibility of being able to work a day or two remote if I'm taking a trip. There is definitely something to be said for in-person interaction relating to the development of your career as a junior employee. But to say that 100% WFH is the future is a fallacy.

(apologies for the length fellas, slow day at the office and this adderall is SMACKING).

I need to be in an office setting and I like being around people so I think the flexibility is good but just not for me. But I also like dressing up and wearing suits which you cant do in your apt etc 

Idk why people or throwing monkey shit on this when its a personal opinion and has no impact on you wanting to sit in an apt over being in an office. I dont care if they make office buildings apts or not  

I think there is value to a hybrid setup. The one thing that hasn't been said is that IB, like law and consulting, is an apprenticeship model. Being in the office makes it easier to learn the skills you need to do your job for that kind of a role. 

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