Once upon a time, people working for Goldman Sachs’ new office in London ate their food in a large room looking a bit like a cross between a school assembly hall and a conference venue, where there was sometimes an aroma of fish and chips. Thanks to the pandemic, they’ve branched out a bit.
Most banks have eating areas reserved for clients and managing directors. At Rothschild, for example, there are butlers and a fully stocked pantry for the executive dining rooms. At Goldman Sachs’ London office, the landscaped roof garden with its habitat boxes and rainwater collection facilities were once reserved for senior staff and clients who wanted to eat al fresco, but the firm has seemingly democratized their access: nowadays, anyone who wants to eat their food on the roof is free to do so.
Bloomberg says it’s all part of a campaign to entice bankers back to the office. Alongside the outdoors eating, Goldman has reportedly begun offering its London people free breakfasts and lunches alongside their free ice cream. Food at Goldman was always subsidized – in 2016 Business Insider discovered you could buy a sausage there for 55p; now it costs nothing whatsoever.
In offering free meals and locational perks, banks have crossed into the domain of large technology companies, which have always gone big on non-monetary benefits. Banks, by comparison, preferred to pay well and to spend any extra money on paying even better. The need to persuade people back to the office appears to have brought a new way of thinking which suggests that money is not the only incentive.
Sarah Butcher – Read more on efinancialcareers.co.uk