Wall Street’s Rigid Culture Bends to Demands for Flexibility at Work

from NYTs

When Tom Naratil arrived on Wall Street in the 1980s, work-life balance didn’t really exist. For most bankers of his generation, working long hours while missing out on family time wasn’t just necessary to get ahead, it was necessary to not be left behind.

But Mr. Naratil, now president of the Swiss bank UBS in the Americas, doesn’t see why the employees of today should have to make the same trade-offs — at the cost of their personal happiness and the company’s bottom line.

Employees with the flexibility to skip “horrible commutes” and work from home more often are simply happier and more productive, Mr. Naratil said. “They feel better, they feel like we trust them more, they’ve got a better work-life balance, and they’re producing more for us — that’s a win-win for everybody.”

Welcome to a kinder, gentler Wall Street.

Much of the banking industry, long a bellwether for corporate America, dismissed remote working as a pandemic blip, even leaning on workers to keep coming in when closings turned Midtown Manhattan into a ghost town. But with many Wall Street workers resisting a return to the office two years later and the competition for banking talent heating up, many managers are coming around on work-from-home — or at least acknowledging it’s not a fight they can win.

More here.

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4 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article and believe they brought up a lot of great points relating to how everyone needs time away for work to focus on themselves and their families. The article provided a example in which in the 1980s work-life balance on wall street didn’t exist and they expected you to work long hours causing someone to not have family time and missing out on important events. How i feel about this is everyone should be able to have some time off to focus on themselves and to have time to spend with their family.
    Working long hours everyday without breaks can really burn someone out causing lots of stress and bad for their mental health.
    Mr. Naratil, now president of the Swiss bank UBS in the Americas agrees that people shouldn’t have to work these long dreadful hours and making a tradeoff compromising their happiness. A interesting quote that Mr.Naratil says is about being able to work at home at times instead of making the horrible commute is “They feel better, they feel like we trust them more, they’ve got a better work-life balance, and they’re producing more for us — that’s a win-win for everybody.” This is a great quote because they are realizing that being able to work at home and have some quality time with the family will cause for better performance at work. I think managers across the United States should see this quote and realize that these employees are humans and need that time away from work to work on themselves and make sure their mental health is good, so their performance at work is at the best it can be.
    Since the pandemic, people have been used to remote working and the banks have been taking a hit because of it. Because of that wall street workers have been resisting going back into the office because the prefer being at home. As a result the competition for banks has been heating up because they need more workers, but it is now hard to find workers.

  2. This article highlights the importance of employees having a work-life balance, rather than putting in 80 hour weeks for years to try and get promotions or raises. Everyone’s definition of success is different, and that is another important thing to keep in mind when reading this article. Some people want to work as much as possible so that they can afford luxury items and travel to extravagant places in their time off. On the other hand, there are people who want to spend as much time as possible with their families and doing things they enjoy, and work to live comfortably. The motivating factor towards happiness will be the main determinant to if someone has a work-life balance, or works as hard as possible on their career. Tom Naratil most likely has a 7 figure salary and lives a lavish lifestyle. Most people would view him as the definition of success, considering he has more wealth than 99.99% of the global population. However, even with all the money and success in the workplace he has accumulated throughout his professional career, he is accepting that people are less motivated to work the hours he did at the time. I think it is important to acknowledge that times have changed and way less people are willing to put in 80-100 hour weeks to gain an advantage in the workplace for a long period of time. When initially starting people might be inclined to grind it out and sacrifice their personal and social lives, but a significant decrease in willingness has been shown. People are so keen on working remotely that wall street had to start accepting it and using it to their advantage. UBS specifically has implemented a policy that their employees should be in the office 3 days a week and can choose the days to start promoting a hybrid setting rather than full remote. As time goes on and the pandemic comes to a close, it will be interesting to see how many employees will remain remote.

  3. The pandemic has had drastic and awful impacts on various factors within society. One of the beneficial actions that emerged is the popular choice of working from home. Employees are able to avoid long commutes and are productive with their flexible schedules. In the banking industry on Wall Street, many offices are forced to give in to the demands of young talent for remote work. Many prominent corporate institutions are taking the decision to adapt to a hybrid model to develop career growth and work-life balance.
    Hybrid work models are an effective method to increase the happiness and efficiency of workers. In a recent Accenture report published by Forbes magazine, 83% of 9,326 workers surveyed said they preferred a hybrid model — in which they can work remotely at least 25%. of the time. Hybrid work models reduce the risk of illness and enable the opportunity to hire diverse talent around the globe. In addition, the system improves professional relationships and helps your mental health. Furthermore, the recent model reaps financial gains for companies. The report also uncovered that hybrid workforce models are utilized by 63% of high-revenue growth companies. Remote working is the future and more industries should attempt to join the ongoing trend.

  4. Covid-19 brought havoc to society as we know it. As we work together to build back much that was lost during the pandemic, we can see a glimpse of good that came out of the pandemic. The workers of today’s generation have a bargaining chip against these employers that have been treating their workers terribly. Workers have leverage in compensation negotiations due to the tight labor market. Companies are desperately seeking workers and are paying a premium. This has been occurring for a while and company margins have not been affected at all by the additional compensation. While administrative expenses have gone up substantially, profits have followed along. This can be directly correlated to the additional productivity seen in these workers that are now being compensated better. Workers make the bulk of a company’s revenue, they should be compensated at a much higher rate than the norm. Extra compensation correlates directly to extra productivity. Work fatigue was and is still a serious occurrence in workers. It is sad it took a deadly pandemic to realize how unfairly companies have been treating their workers, but at least conditions are changing. Most jobs can be done from anywhere in the world. Going into the office 5-6 times a week is useless and only causes greater stress on the employee. There are a plethora of statistics that prove remote work has increased productivity tenfold. Workers should only need to come in 3-4 times a week. This is the bare minimum companies can provide for their workers who without them, there would be no company.

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