Wall Street employees are being ushered back to the office, but regulators and leaders are continuing to enjoy the perks of flexible work models.
Companies like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are pressing staff to return to the workplace this month after the Omicron surge forced companies to continue delaying their post-pandemic plans.
However, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will require employees to return to the office by June 6 at the earliest, while the Federal Reserve remains mostly remote.
Across many government agencies, employees still largely have the ability to work from home, but the banking industry has been bullish about the necessity of in-person work since the onset of the pandemic.
“Financial firms particularly — but really all businesses — must react quickly to changes in market conditions,” said Peter Wallison, a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute. “It’s difficult to do if the people whose judgment you want are not immediately accessible, at their desks, on the same floor, receiving the same information.”
Wallison added that government agencies are able to afford operating with remote arrangements. Additionally, because many federal employees are appointed, they have more legal protections that keep them from being fired easily.
Many federal financial workers outside of management roles are also part of unions, which provides them with an extra layer of protection and may complicate the efforts of bringing them back into the office.
At the New York Fed, which oversees Wall Street, the majority of staff has the option to work remotely.
It’s a different story on Wall Street itself. Leaders within this industry have historically opposed the ability to work remotely or flexibly, citing the need for in-person mentorship and collaboration.