Christopher O’Dea, a Morgan Stanley managing director based in San Francisco, apparently thinks that his younger colleagues should be back in the office. The New York Post reports that during a call last week, O’Dea said: “If you’re 21 to 35, you are nuts not to be in the office all the time.”
Aged around 45, O’Dea presumably doesn’t count himself in the category of people who are perverse to insist upon working from home. Morgan Stanley isn’t commenting on the article, and it’s unclear what O’Dea’s rationale was, but it probably has something to do with visibility and an “apprenticeship culture.”
Around 18 months into the work from home experience, it’s clear why some juniors at Morgan Stanley may beg to disagree. – A new study of 48 investment bankers in Indonesia highlights what’s become evident globally – that working from home can be a far less stressful experience than going into the office, unless enormous workloads intervene.
The Indonesian study shows that in itself, working from increases motivation and reduces employee turnover. This is unsurprising – as has been frequently observed, working from home can mean more time for exercise and more time for sleep (one ex-Barclays AVP says she spent more time in bed and was actually able to do some yoga at home). However, the Indonesian study also found that any benefits of working from home are quickly eroded by increased workloads and stress, which make employees want to leave. Banks then need to offer higher rewards to mitigate this.
Rather than commanding people back into the office, the study suggests banks should do their best to make people feel happier at home. This means monitoring workloads to make sure they’re not excessive, reassuring them that their work is good, and dropping the presumption that because people are at home they don’t need equivalent rewards (the initial lack of a meal subsidy seems to have sparked the complaints at Goldman Sachs.)
Ultimately, junior bankers at home need to managed even more carefully by VPs and managing directors – which might also explain why O’Dea thinks they should be back in the office.
Sarah Butcher – Read more on efinancialcareers.com