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Goldman Sachs bankers finally schlepped back to their offices in New York this week — and the firm is trying to make their return as painless as possible.
The Wall Street giant – whose chief executive David Solomon for months has been beating the drum for staff to get back to their desks — welcomed new interns and returning employees with live music and free lunches from nearly two-dozen food trucks, including Cousins Maine Lobster, Poke Motion and the Van Leeuwen ice-cream shop.
“It must be a special occasion if Tucker and I get to go outside for a lunch break,” top Goldman banker Stephanie Cohen posted on LinkedIn alongside a photo of her and colleague Tucker York, with whom she heads the consumer and wealth management division, sidling up to the lobster truck. “We tried Angry Archie’s, but it was a tough choice!”
The white-shoe firm even staged live music performances in the afternoon — funk on Tuesday, reggae on Wednesday and salsa on Thursday — outside its offices at 200 West Street.
In the glass office tower’s “Sky Lobby” on the 11th floor — an auditorium-like space known as the “living room” of the building that houses a cafeteria and gym — A DJ played quiet tunes, although it wasn’t the CEO, who famously spins under the name DJ D-Sol.
“This launch was cooler than I thought Goldman was capable of,” one observer of the return-to-work kickoff told The Post.
The source added that the neighborhood surrounding the office is now so bustling that it’s nearly impossible to get a lunch reservation at nearby hot spots like El Vez, a Mexican favorite.
Employees also were invited to free fitness classes including yoga, cycling, and bootcamp hosted on the terrace. Goldman passed out snacks from companies its invested in through a small-business initiative including Lola Granola and Brooklyn Cupcakes.
The bank arranged seating throughout the building to facilitate conversation and promote collegiality, sources said. And as employees filed out for the day they were greeted with reggae songs like “Red, Red Wine.”
But it was likely the voices chattering in the office that were music to Solomon’s ears. Solomon has been vocal about his dislike for remote work — calling it “an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible” and “not a new normal” for employees at the bank.
At least one pandemic-spawned habit may stick. After months of working from home, some employees were slow to relinquish their casual clothes and showed up clad in sneakers, jeans, and Hawaiian shirts. An exception were summer interns, who could be easily spotted in their suits and ties.
Meanwhile, up in Midtown at Barclays’ offices, employees of the British bank kept a stiff upper lip as they returned and followed coronavirus restrictions including social distancing guidelines that kept them far apart both at their desks and in the cafeteria.
Bankers at JPMorgan won’t return en masse until next month, but the report said more employees are making their way to the office than in prior months.
At Morgan Stanley, James Gorman has yet to dictate employees return this summer. But this week he made headlines for issuing a stern warning to his staff in a virtual conference — come back to the office by Labor Day, or face a pay cut. “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office,” he said.
Other financial firms like BlackRock and Bank of America are still cobbling together plans. BlackRock will reportedly allow vaccinated employees to return next month and Bank of America will ask vaccinated employees to return in September. It’s unclear when or if unvaccinated employees will be expected to return.
“Well over 90 percent of our employees who are in the offices are now vaccinated,” Gorman said at a conference earlier this week, adding that the bank expects only a small number to be unvaccinated when Morgan Stanley’s offices fully reopen after Labor day.
“Maybe they can’t or they won’t,” Gorman said of workers without jabs. “We’ll deal with that when we get there.”