JP Morgan was apparently surprised to discover that across its business lines, employees experienced a noticable decline in productivity during the last six months, as the world’s corporate office workers retreated to their work-from-home ‘rona rigs. The bank recently told its traders to report back to the office as the bank becomes the first Wall Street player to start recalling employees to the office, staking out a position opposite Google and the rest of ‘Big Tech’, which has (at least, publicly) embraced the ‘work from home lifestyle’.
Now, according to a report published earlier by Bloomberg, JPM has shared findings from some internal research with analysts at Stifel-owned Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. The report found that workers showed a definitive lack of “creative energy” while working from home.
JPM is shocked, SHOCKED to learn that young traders “working” from home are less productive
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 14, 2020
CEO Jamie Dimon has even lent his name to this little project.
“The WFH lifestyle seems to have impacted younger employees, and overall productivity and ‘creative combustion’ has taken a hit,” KBW’s Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a Sept. 13 note to clients, citing an earlier meeting with Dimon.
The bank has noticed the productivity decline among “employees in general, not just younger employees,” JPMorgan spokesman Michael Fusco clarified in an emailed statement, adding that younger workers “could be disadvantaged by missed learning opportunities” by not being in offices.
“Overall, Jamie thinks a shift back to the office will be good for the young employees and to foster creative ideas,” Kleinhanzl wrote.
According to Bloomberg, JPM’s claims are an interesting “data point” to stand alongside studies which found that employees tend to work longer hours when they’re home. Depending on the individual job, situations can of course very from one extreme to the other.
JPMorgan’s findings provide a data point in the debate over whether employees perform as well at the kitchen table as they do in the workplace, showing extended remote work may not be all it’s cracked up to be, at least for some job functions. While pre-pandemic studies found remote workers were just as efficient as those in offices, there were questions about how employees would perform under compulsory lockdowns.
But we suspect JPM wouldn’t take such a risk, and come out so strongly in opposition to the new post-COVID-19 reality where work from home situations are much more common, if its clients wouldn’t approve.
Somewhere, some JPM clients (and, perhaps, potential clients), are probably relieved to see JPM take such a strong, “evidenced-based” stand against WFH.