Why We Should All Return to the Office

I know I am seeing a lot of back-and-forth on this topic, but I really need to push back and raise some red flags here. Having an on-site office presence foundational to our ability to drive efficiencies in a corporate landscape. It's in our DNA. Sure, there is no 'one size fits all' or silver bullet and boilerplate solutions, leveraged to the hilt really only keep us at a 30,000-foot-view of things. Being on-site, however, really allow us to get better granularity, find better directional-indicators, or loop back and dive deep into some critical issues on a go-forward basis.

By spending more time in the office again, you'll find yourself trending toward the positive, but you'll have to keep an eye on the puck. Gut through it, reduce thrash, and let's stay in lock-step on this. Yes, we will synergize! We've been remote for so long it's easy to forget the benefits of working in the office.

What's the root cause of the hatred of corporate office spaces? I'll put my layman's hat on and guess that it comes from movies such as Office Space and Dilbert cartoons. But we all know that these are fictional spaces, and real office spaces allow us to touch base in a much more efficient manner.

I have to time-box this comment, as I have a hard-stop soon when I will have to jump onto a call. So, just one more point that I want to cover-off on: let's socialize the idea of having more office presence and loop back to see whether we're being more impactful. From a management standpoint, I think that getting traction on this is achievable.

So, net/net, ignore the naysayers, sidebar the folks that are stuck in the weeds, and don't waste cycles or bandwidth on folks that don't align strongly with this mission. Try it out, and we'll have another touch point in a little while to see if we've moved the needle. Remember, our north star hasn't changed. We're still championing our core values remotely and well only do it better in person.

If you need me, I will be online again in a bit.

Comments (69)

Nov 5, 2021 - 10:28am

Yes and I'd change jobs to guarantee that.

Get busy living
  • 2
Nov 6, 2021 - 6:04am

The ideal for me would be to go into the office 1-2 times a week, get in around 10am (so I can have breakfast at home) and leave at around 5, just for the change of scenery and chance to meet up with people.

Nov 7, 2021 - 5:02am

This a valid fucking point. Amazing how people don't realize the implications of WFH. Your "fear" is well-founded. There is nothing stopping companies (in and out of finance) from choosing employees from a larger pool of candidates as communication technology gets more advanced. Nobody is irreplaceable. 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Nov 9, 2021 - 5:39am

I'm the guy that said he was from Africa above. This has already begun and I don't think it can go back. Banks are more open to recruiting from and outsourcing to 3rd world countries now.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Nov 9, 2021 - 5:37am

I swear to God this relates to me. I am african and lived in West Africa and got a job in banking in NYC this year after doing interviews on zoom. I cant help but imagine how many americans i beat out on due to the fact banks can now recruit online. It literally changed my life but if WFH continues this way, yeah you westerners are fucked. Just wait till the Indians really take advantage of this, for now banks are recruiting out of Africa because we are more docile in the work place and don't want to ever make a fuss. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 9, 2021 - 9:44am

Uh are you not being paid the same comp as everyone else or something? And you're talking front office IBD right...? Doesn't really make sense what you've said honestly. 

Controversial
Nov 5, 2021 - 10:12am

Is this post satirical? You've offered zero imperial evidence as to why we should return to the office. Seriously, its more efficient? Reducing CRE spend will literally result in improved profitability/efficiency, and productivity has IMPROVED since WFH. The reality is WFH is a employee perk (reduced commuting time, more comfortable cloths etc), and if finance returns to full return to office they will see further talent drain to tech and other industries that offer more flexibility. 

I get it, people hate change, its why my dad doesn't have an iPhone and my MD would rather use a fucking fax machine then learn how to type. But you can either choose to adopt or die grandpa.

Funniest
Nov 5, 2021 - 10:29am

Are you autistic?  This is satire.

Get busy living
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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 10:51am

Dude he's in our side he was just being sarcastic and poking fun at the ridiculous way banks are trying to justify return to office

Nov 5, 2021 - 11:04am

I think a lot of junior bankers are forgetting that a full return to the office (and assuming in-person meetings) means less of a workload. Right now, there's no physical limit to pitches and mandates a MD can take on due to Zoom. In-person meetings would set a cap to how many mandates a MD can take on.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 11:30am

Disagree. When you're in the office your in view of all essentially can't just watch some TV or cook something in the middle of the day. Maybe we have better WLB than your bank but honestly rather have an increased workload from home than be in person 

Nov 30, 2021 - 11:40pm

Strong disagree. Previously in office 5 days a week (or 7 if needed lol) and there were no limitations on workload for us. This was further compounded by the fact that when we actually didn't have work you couldn't be productive because you were expected to be chained to your desk rather than getting personal shit done so you could actually be free when the workload crunch did hit. 

It should just be hybrid. Obvious best of both worlds. Besides, MDs are probably going to take some meetings in person and some meetings remotely, so if your point is that pitching / mandate capacity is limitless in a hybrid / remote environment, just being in the office doesn't even mean MDs are going to stack up in person meetings only.

Nov 5, 2021 - 12:44pm

Good discussion in this thread. 

If I could find a way to bet on this, I would, because I think this is what's going to happen:

  1. There will be a big push to get back to the office. I am agnostic to whether this will be driven by companies or employees, but it will happen
  2. People will get all the social work stuff out of their system. All the missed HH, the missed promotion celebrations, meet all the new hires in person, etc. Lots to celebrate in a very short amount of time
  3. People will remember that going back to the office is a pain in the ass. "you mean I have to get up and get dressed and commute - how the fawk did I ever do this before???"
  4. People will be begging to go back home and we will all end up WFH all over again. 

Once you've had a bite of that sweet WFH apple there is no going back! There will be a massive rebound effect. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2021 - 1:43pm

This is a very good analysis. Once you get a taste of something nice and convenient it becomes your new baseline level of comfort after some time (which it has been).

Nov 5, 2021 - 1:03pm

Brilliant stuff. 

I come from down in the valley, where mister when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done

Most Helpful
Nov 5, 2021 - 2:37pm

I've been going back into the office since early May and am so glad I'm not fully remote. Lack of social interaction sucks and it's so much harder to collaborate and you miss out on a lot of the general pulse of things. Just lose out on so much comradery and honestly the ability to learn and absorb information is hampered significantly IMO. 

That said, my firm has a very flexible hybrid model. Some weeks I won't go in at all, some weeks it's 1 day only, but I generally shoot for 3. Hands down the hybrid model is what I'd prefer as long as it's not a strictly mandated you have to come in these days of the week or a minimum # of days. 

Unless there are some major meetings, basically boils down to if I feel like going in, I go in. If I have too many early morning meetings or have plans where it's beneficial for me to stay home, or am too jammed up on workstreams, I stay home. Yes, commuting is a pain in the ass sometimes but I structure that as personal downtime or catch up on slacks / emails / newsletters.

Realize this is kind of against popular opinion, but you'd actually have to pay me more if 100% remote was mandatory.

Nov 6, 2021 - 12:42pm

I'd assume getting to work for you is relatively easy - which somehow no one ever seems to factor into these "do we WFH debates". How would you feel if you were in my position? Just accepted a job with a flexible hybrid model, but would require 3 hours of commuting a day. No solid public transportation either, so that leaves a lot of unproductive time stuck in the car... 

Nov 6, 2021 - 5:06pm

Also have a hybrid setup but it's due to being part of management team and needing people in office on certain days for shipments/communication with other major departments that require an in person contact/meetings etc. Can go to office whenever I like. Our in office employees are far more productive. I admit I'm a slacker at home and being part of management - i'm not micromanaged. Our main corporate office (where I used to work) rents out workspace for hours at a time but very few remote employees use it.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 7, 2021 - 2:03pm

I don't think there's that many ppl that are mandatory wfh now right? I feel like the debate is more between how many days in person should be mandatory if any and whether it should be all in person or some sort of hybrid rather than full wfh,

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 5, 2021 - 3:08pm

Is there going to be a mass exodus when everyone gets called back to the office? Will firms go hybrid against their Will to keep talent?

Nov 5, 2021 - 7:35pm

B+ for effort so I'm not going to MS you but, like, cmon. This meme format was already tiresome like five years ago, and it's borderline cringe today.

2020 Update: recounting my experiences in PE and sharing thoughts on recent deals at https://leverup.substack.com
  • Partner in PE - LBOs
Nov 6, 2021 - 4:54pm

It's weird, the surveys, and all the evidence, shows workers prefer WFH, and yet, companies are sending people back in. 

Nov 6, 2021 - 11:21pm

The perfect deal would be mandatory one WFH a week, with a traditional expectation for the other 4 of you coming into the office, and an understanding that more WFH days are acceptable on an approval basis for each specific extra day.

Gives you that key one day of flexibility, to stay home on a Monday, or stay home to let the contractor in, take Johnboy to the doctors office, or whatever.

At the same time, keeps you professional and ambitious.

Thoughts?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 7, 2021 - 12:49am

Uh, no. Wtf is this. Just make it simple and let people choose or simplify it all go all WFH. "Professional and ambitious" ? I'll tell you what makes me ambitious. The ability to take a fucking shit in the comfort of my own bathroom during the day how about that?

Nov 30, 2021 - 11:46pm

4 mandatory days a week is too much IMO. 3 days in max, 2 days WFH. It really is single handedly the best way to solve/improve the work life balance in IB. And improvement needs to be made, seeing as there were across the board pay raises just to attempt to retain talent, yet much of it continues to jump ship and much of the pipeline continues to divert toward tech. I would also think some firms will dangle hybrid (or I guess remote) as a recruiting differentiator.

Nov 7, 2021 - 1:56am

There's literally 0 tangible reasons the OP cites about making a return to the office, good job sounding like a strategic teaser to a baseless value proposition.

Do agree with certain elements of camaraderie & morale efficiencies of being around your team physically through a hybrid model, but better "granularity" is certainly not what materialises as a byproduct of being in the office 5 days a week.

Nov 7, 2021 - 3:30am

Not agreeing or disagreeing, but one of the best (or funniest perhaps) comment I've seen somewhere to date was:

"If you work in the front office, you should be in the office."

VP
  • 2
Nov 7, 2021 - 11:29am

Work should be full time in the office.  The "data" that supports the work from home is more productive was time biased from a 3ish months after work from home started when people were still waking up at their normal time and having nothing better to do working during the period where they would normally be traveling to work.  Well it only took about 3 to 4 months for workers to wise up and realize they don't need to do that.

Nov 30, 2021 - 11:50pm

If you're not as productive as an employee, that should be easily measured and your compensation or employment status should modified accordingly. If your management isn't doing this or isn't capable of that in a hybrid environment then that's just shitty management. Idk where you are seeing that workers "wised up" and suddenly employees in the front office are just dicking around not getting shit done like they used too...

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 19, 2021 - 2:16pm

>after work from home started when people were still waking up at their normal time and having nothing better to do working during the period where they would normally be traveling to work.  Well it only took about 3 to 4 months for workers to wise up and realize they don't need to do that.

are you saying that the fact that workers are using the time they save on commuting to do non-work related things (like sleep) is bad?

are you actually fucking saying this?

Dec 19, 2021 - 11:20pm

No, if you actually read what was written you would realize that I was talking about the added productivity that happened when the work from home stuf first started.  The fact that the productivity gains have evaporated and actaully retracted for the fist time in well over 100 years is a worrying reality.  Wealth is not generated through compensation it is created through productivity.  With falling productivity on a national and global scale the human population is in for tough times ahead.  

Also a side note the fact that all of you responding to my statement to mean I was talking about investment bankers is hilariously out of touch.  More people work in offices than just ibankers.

Nov 11, 2021 - 3:30am

Next-level satire. Loved it.

I'll just add, seriously, that despite all the joking and pushback to being in the office, our juniors will benefit the most. I do not think that for most people being back in the office will make things better or more efficient - we've already proven that this isn't the case. But I firmly believe that our junior bankers, especially those who joined remotely, will gain so much from being in person. Whether or not you're a junior who gets on a live deal in person is irrelevant to my thought process honestly. I really think that the social skills they develop talking to people face-to-face are so valuable and help ready them for any future situation, whether it's liaising with clients or interviewing for the buyside.

Please add if you disagree as there are many sides to this argument but I firmly believe that from a purely developmental standpoint, the juniors have way more to gain in person than being remote.

  • 4
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 11, 2021 - 10:14am

I disagree. No guarantee that juniors like myself and particularly my generation want to stay in this field much less corporate life as a whole very long. It's a means to an end. I find the idea of a corporate "career" one of the most depressing things in existence. Particularly when you realize that pay is just abysmal outside of the high tension/performance "high finance" field. May be hard for older guys to keep up with, but there's so many other opportunities out there now. Not going to bother to list them because things like trading crypto just get laughed at for whatever reason. It's fine, laugh, but all that matters is that ending bank account and the free time you have on this earth. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 26, 2021 - 5:09pm

Not sure if this has just been an outspoken minority on this forum (which is interesting because the most try hard people would be on a finance forum too), but this is exactly how I've been feeling. This is purely a monetary decision for me. Each dollar from each paycheck I save and invest is getting me closer to freedom. All I know is money invested young is money that will have more time to compound and its that much easier to have the present value of the future nest egg you need when you start early.   Couldn't care less about long term career goals and find the idea of having to sit in an office because I have no other choice for 40+ years to be incredibly sad. 

Nov 21, 2021 - 10:10pm

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