Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman said 10% to 12% of its U.S. employees are back at the office, a far smaller portion than in Europe and Asia, and the Wall Street firm will be flexible with its work arrangements as the coronavirus pandemic lingers.
In Europe about 30% of staffers are back, and in Asia the figure is 40%, Gorman said Monday during the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s annual meeting, held virtually this year. While there will be changes in where Morgan Stanley employees work, it’s “too early to say how that translates into our footprint” in terms of office space.
“I firmly believe that the office is important for mentoring, development, socialization, creativity, brainstorming — all the things you do together with others — but we can certainly be more flexible,” Gorman said.
Gorman’s comments echo those of JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon, who generally has been more vociferous than his peers in encouraging people to return to the office, touting the benefits over working from home. Earlier this month, Dimonconceded that the path to normal is still a long one, and competitors Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. said last week during their quarterly earnings calls that workers won’t be returning en masse any time soon.
Gorman said Monday that he’s hopeful there will be a Covid-19 vaccine — one readily available for public use — by mid-2021. Even before then, Gorman expects more workers to return to the office between now and the end of the year — “probably 25% globally,” and steadily increasing from there, he said. “But I doubt we’ll get back to exactly where we were pre-Covid.”
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