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BlackRock orders staff to return to the office 3 days a week

Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Semenova discusses BlackRock's return-to-the-office plans and how it fits in with other banks' hybrid work strategies.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back. BlackRock has joined a growing list of finance firms that have ordered their staff back to the office as Wall Street ramps up for its in-person workforce. Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Semenova is here with the scoop. And Alex, all the latest details you are dropping on the global Twitterverse yesterday afternoon, a little bit late. What are they?

ALEXANDRA SEMENOVA: Indeed, Jared. So BlackRock is getting serious about its return to office expectations, as some of its Wall Street peers get stricter about summoning people back for in-person work. In an internal memo sent to staff yesterday from BlackRock's chief operating officer and global head of human resources, the company said all employees must work from the office at least three days per week with up to two days a week of remote work. Any exceptions to the 3 plus 2 model will be rare and require formal approval.

Now a spokesperson for BlackRock reiterated to me that this model has been in place since early in the pandemic. But let's be clear here. It hasn't been enforced at all. I'm told by insiders that some teams even got reprimanded recently because not enough people were meeting these attendance requirements. And this is kind of a common theme across Wall Street. We have obviously heard the big banks say that they want workers back for the past year.

But these teams are making their own rules. Obviously, if you're on the investment banking team of Goldman Sachs, you've probably been in five days a week. But some other teams are not coming in or more resistant to returning to the office. And this is the first time that Wall Street is being very clear that it wants people back. The games are over, and it's time to get serious about returning.

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, we'll see what people actually do, though, rather than what they're being told to do. Larry Fink is the head of BlackRock. He made some comments yesterday about this whole thing and the idea of remote work.

JARED BLIKRE: Love this.

JULIE HYMAN: What did he say?

ALEXANDRA SEMENOVA: Yeah, so the same day that this email was sent to employees, he went on an interview with Fox Business and said that remote work was actually contributing to inflation, that the drop in productivity is the result of post-pandemic remote work policies. Fink also said that BlackRock is going to ask employees to be much more mindful about their responsibilities in the office, using pretty stern language, saying, quote, that the company will be taking a harder line as to how it brings employees back.

And again, this reaffirms the fact that their hybrid model hasn't really been working or enforced with this language from Larry Fink here. He also said something interesting. He said that rallying staff back to the office could be a great offset and can make the Federal Reserve's job easier and could even lead to a less aggressive Fed.

JARED BLIKRE: I love this. If you're feeling sorry for Jay Powell, all you have to do is be a little bit more productive, get your rear in the office, and everything's going to be fine. Take that pressure off of the Fed.

JULIE HYMAN: Is anybody feeling sorry for Jay Powell?

JARED BLIKRE: Larry Fink maybe.

JULIE HYMAN: I don't know.

JARED BLIKRE: I don't know.

JULIE HYMAN: I don't know. I mean, listen, there are lots of people who think that they are more productive at home. I personally am more productive in the office, I think. I much prefer to be in the office. But--

JARED BLIKRE: It depends. I mean, if you're a client facing-- in a client facing job for JPMorgan, BlackRock, you probably need to be in the office. And if you're a tech worker who's coding 18 hours a day, maybe you don't need to be in a nice cushy office environment.

JULIE HYMAN: Right, but then you get into all kinds of political conundrums like, will then the sales folks be resentful of the tech people who get to work at home? I don't know. It's very complicated.

JARED BLIKRE: Fair enough.

JULIE HYMAN: That's what we've discovered. We will eventually. It might just take a little while. Thanks, Alex. Appreciate it.