“This will give structure to the day”: Goldman Sachs staff return to London offices | Goldman Sachs

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A A constant stream of black taxis pulled up outside Goldman Sachs’ European headquarters in central London early Monday morning, transporting bankers to their desks after government regulations on coronavirus lockdowns eased. For many, this is the first time in over a year that they have visited the office.

Ben gets out of a taxi, a risk strategy officer who declined to give his last name and returns to £ 1.2bn Plumtree Court after months of working from his flat in Islington. “I feel really good coming back to the office,” he says. “It will give some structure to the day. It is difficult to stop working when you are working from home. “

The 28-year-old is confident that the office will be a safe working environment. “They did a lot of prep work,” he says. ” We obtain [coronavirus] tested twice a week. “

Goldman Sachs workers
Many Goldman Sachs employees had been away from their London offices for more than a year

He looks forward to seeing his colleagues again. “But most of the guys I normally work with aren’t back yet,” he says. “And we’re all going to break up for social distancing, so I guess it’ll be harder to get the bants.”

The US bank is one of the first large UK office employers to bring a considerable proportion of its staff to the office, after its chief executive, David Solomon, called on his colleagues to return to the workplace “as soon as possible. as possible”. .

In February, Solomon, who is a club DJ in his spare time, said working from home was “an aberration that we are going to fix as quickly as possible.” I think for a company like ours, which is an innovative and collaborative learning culture, this is not ideal for us. And that’s not a new normal.

Veronika Wang walked five minutes from her apartment across the Holborn Viaduct on her first day back in Goldman. “I feel nervous but also very excited,” said Wang, 23, who works in debt financing, outside the Shoe Lane office. “I think it’s better for the economy, and they offer testing every day.”

Jeff Hitt
Jeff Hitt, retired Barclays banker, said Canary Wharf was ‘the busiest I’ve seen in months’

Most people who walk into Goldman’s office – which includes a large gym (with 17 treadmills, 14 exercise bikes, and a 10m sprint circuit), therapy rooms, a nursery, and a rooftop garden of wildflowers – don’t want to stop to talk to the media, but some say they have come to the office every day at all stages of the pandemic anyway.

Bankers are considered key workers if their jobs support the functioning of the economy and financial stability, meaning some have been allowed to work in the office throughout the pandemic.

Goldman says his office is open to all staff, but attendance is “voluntary.” He said about 15% to 20% of his 6,000 London workers were back in the office last week, and he expects many more to do the same this week after the lockdown is eased. A team of four “greeters” was deployed outside the office alongside a team of security guards to welcome back the employees.

Some young Goldman bankers had complained about “inhumane” working conditions from home, including 100-hour work weeks and abuse by co-workers.

The streets of central London still seem much quieter in the morning rush hour than before the pandemic, and many cafes and shops have remained closed despite being allowed to reopen under the latest government guidelines.

Andrew Tollington à Canary Wharf, Londres
IT consultant Andrew Tollington visited Canary Wharf in London to see clients

Travel on the London Underground increased by 18% on Monday compared to last Tuesday, the first full working day after the Easter holiday, although it was only one-third of pre-pandemic demand, according to figures published by Transport for London. Live data from satellite navigation company TomTom showed rush-hour car journeys were 40% more in London than in un-congested conditions, an increase of 10 percentage points from the week previous.

Canary Wharf, London’s second financial center and headquarters of the European headquarters of several global banks, seemed mostly deserted. However, residents said it was much busier on Monday than it had been in months.

Jeff Hitt, a retired Barclays banker who lives in Canary Wharf and was waiting for his hair cut, said: “It’s the busiest I’ve seen in months. Most of these cafes weren’t open at all, but now things are finally starting to get more normal. “

Andrew Tollington, an IT consultant who had cycled to see clients in Canary Wharf from his home in Queen’s Park, northwest London, says it will be his first day in an office since summer 2020. “J ‘had delayed this meeting until today. so it can take place in person, ”Tollington says. “You really can’t build a relationship if it’s all over video calls; I much prefer being here to see real people in real offices.

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