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Why Jamie Dimons of the Corporate World Can’t Force People Back to Offices

New York City, April 14, 2020: Wall Street and the financial district remains empty as people continue to practice social distancing to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Lower Manhattan.

Banking dinosaurs calling for return to office

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan has called his workforce to return to office stating that millennials are not as productive working from home comparing to seasoned employees.[i]

Why these are lone voices ignored by other industries

CEOs such are Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs (who followed Dimon’s suit) are obviously in industries run on more traditional working cultures that have little incentive for change.

  • their own working habits — which are hard to break as one gets older
  • rigid[xvii] views of their employees’ work-life balance at a time when so many kids are forced to do online schooling (traditionally this disregard was compensated through higher wages and perks, but not now).
  • Younger management is more confident in the power of technology, having better tech skills themselves, which has in turn produced a different mindset and affected working culture: Facebook, Twitter, Square, Slack, Zillow have told their employees they don’t ever have to come back to the office (notice that these are tech companies very comfortable with remote communication even before COVID):[vi][vii]
  • The new post-COVID world has focused on social justice, equality and well-being of every individual, and better quality of life (we are still to see the reality of theory)
  • Different objectives (e.g. social pressure to follow suit, as well as the fact that a higher salary cannot replace the quality of life)

External factors beyond corporate CEOs control

Finance industry is not an isolated island in this sea of change. External factors will eventually weight on Wall Street CEOs attempts to keep the status quo.

  • Real estate — virtual viewings are on the rise amplified by social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram, live streams, and YouTube people are purchasing properties without seeing them first-hand (@samanthasalem selling real estate in Kansas City, @cash.jordan real estate broker in NYC)
  • high living expenses, lack of work, overcrowding, and moving to online studies — due to all these young people had been fleeing the cities even before COVID hit. Now that COVID prevents them from returning, they are discovering the comfort of new cheaper out-of-metro lifestyle
  • workforce movements between industries — pre-COVID rat race was at its highest prompting many to seek better work life balance by switching careers. COVID has forced every aspect of economy to turn to the internet and new ways of making money are mushrooming overnight. These realignments are not temporary — and their impact on overall society is yet to be seen.
  • Other similar studies by industry think tanks have confirmed this.[xiv]

Why Jamie Dimon’s calls are out of touch and short-lived

Jamie Dimon comes from the 80s Wall Street corporate upbringing, a protégé of Sandy Weill, arguably one of the most influential icons of the 80s and 90s Wall Street, who built Citigroup to the financial beast that it was pre-GFC. Jamie Dimon might have been forward thinking back in the 80s when junk bonds ruled Wall Street and the rule of law was still preoccupied with Main Street. Since then he’s been outgrown and overtaken by new kids who were quicker to accept the changes that tech brought on.


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