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Wall Street brings bankers back to offices for the hybrid era

(Bloomberg) — New staples of office life go beyond hand sanitizer and air filters. For some Wall Street banks, they also include natural light, lots of plants, and cold brew on tap.

As return-to-office plans intensify—with the hope that they’ll last this time—many bosses are embracing new setups and perks to wake up to the comforts of home. At Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Bank of Montreal and Deutsche Bank AG, changes have gone even further: New York workers retreated to buildings completely isolated from the pandemic.

Well-planned moves before Covid hit gave banks an opportunity to revamp the space for new types of work, especially as each company adopts hybrid policies, allowing many employees to be laid off for at least part of the week. I am allowed to stay away. From pool tables to open seating, their arrangements show how once Wall Street offices are turning into a shared collaborative space reminiscent of the tech digs of Silicon Valley.

“There is a great emphasis on wellness, air filtration, the idea of ​​natural light as part of the environment, the ability to see the sun through the sky during the day,” said chief executive Mary Ann Tighe. For brokerage CBRE Group Inc. of the New York tri-state area, “these values ​​have been moved to the top of the hierarchy for office space among financial-services firms.”

That’s a trend likely to continue: In January, Citigroup Inc. said it would overhaul its London tower to “reflect the changing nature of work” with an emphasis on shared space and new technology.

For banks, the new office space is not just about providing additional facilities for the employees. They are in competition to retain and attract new talent – ​​not only from other financial firms, but also from tech and cryptocurrency companies. Cutting costs is also a factor, with some companies finding ways to do more with less space.

With Covid concerns easing, this month is crucial to New York’s efforts to bring workers back. A survey conducted in January by the Partnership for New York City found that the majority of Manhattan employers believe their daily office attendance will exceed 50% by the end of March. Here’s a look at how Mizuho, ​​BMO and Deutsche Bank set up their new offices when employees return.

Mizuho America

Old Address: 320 Park Ave.
New Address: 1271 Avenue of America

Mizuho moved into its new Midtown Tower – originally known as the Time & Life Building – in February 2020, just before the outbreak of the pandemic. The move brought together the firm’s securities business, which was originally positioned at 320 Park Avenue, and the bankers who were across the street at 1251 Ave., US, where the company still has some space.

The firm gave employees the option to return to work in person in September. Last month, employees were told they expected to return, although most are still working on a hybrid basis.

“There is an energy in the office and it seems more permanent this time. Again lots of smiles and gatherings in lounges and crowded areas, said Jerry Rizieri, Chief Executive Officer, Mizuho Securities USA. “Some haven’t seen each other in two years and for our new employees, this is their first time in the office.”

They are being welcomed in the cafeteria, which are stocked with cold brew on tap and in the lunch rooms that dot the stretch of street made famous by Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Many places have large works of art that point to Mizuho’s Japanese roots.

The firm now has three types of meeting spaces in its new offices, including a central cafe for small impromptu gatherings, the so-called huddle room for meetings of up to four people, and conference rooms for larger groups.

Each room is equipped with video conferencing technology, which aims to ensure that everyone, whether at home or in the office, is on equal footing during meetings. The trading floor, which can seat over 800 people each, is even outfitted with additional benches to make room for unscheduled confab.

Trading floor in Mizuho. Photographer: Amir Hamza/Bloomberg

“For our junior employees, we are an apprenticeship business, so it is great to see face-to-face and spontaneous collaboration,” Rizzieri said.

bank of montreal
Old Address: 3 Times Square
New Address: 4 Times Square

The BMO is calling for corner offices to be reserved for top executives. In the Toronto-based firm’s new Times Square tower, senior bankers are positioned in the middle of the floor, allowing junior employees to reserve desk space on the building’s exterior where natural light is plentiful.

“We don’t have large offices that take up walls and walls of windows,” said Summer Hinton, chief operating officer of BMO’s capital markets business. “It’s made a big difference.”

BMO began refilling its New York location with bankers last month, with most employees expected to return on a hybrid basis by early April. Its new building, which shares common space with Nasdaq and TikTok, includes the former offices of the bank as well as a New Year’s Eve view. Employees can peek through the windows of their previous workspace, their old, wooden desks still sitting there.

The conference room has been decorated with large screens to make video calls easier for the employees working from home. For those contributing to the meetings in person, layers take the place of traditional office chairs.

“We had a slight advantage because we were already planning a hybrid work environment and were looking at collaboration in our design,” Hinton said. “The pandemic triggered thoughts about the future of work.”

Features in the updated space include lockers for workers who want to store their belongings without occupying a dedicated desk space. The ninth floor provides a terrace for outdoor entertaining.

Deutsche Bank
Old Address: 60 Wall St.
New Address: 10 Columbus Circle

With its move last summer, Deutsche Bank became the last banking giant to leave Wall Street in lower Manhattan, long a financial industry stronghold. The German lender traded its mahogany- and marble-filled headquarters for a new location in Midtown’s Columbus Circle. There, the company installed a bevy of planters that span the wall that towers over 500 of the firm’s merchants.

As the firm planned to allow more employees to enter its new Manhattan workspace, it began to reconfigure the way individual offices were designed to ensure that employees were personally and to meet through videoconferencing. It also established large courtyards for employees to gather outside to view the southwest corner of Central Park.

A courtyard space in the Deutsche Bank office. Photographer: Amir Hamza/Bloomberg

The Frankfurt-based firm has a social area called Der Bar where small teams and groups can meet and relax. Nearby, employees can try their hand at ping pong or at the pool during downtime.

Deutsche Bank has intensified programs in the office to welcome more of its employees. Covid-19 vaccination is required for entry into the building and staff will be tested for the virus each week at the extended medical facility.

CEO Christiana Riley said, “It’s been great to walk around and feel the energy of teams that work together and work together, and it’s great to collide with so many people that I’ve only spent over two years in.” seen on the computer screen. of Deutsche Bank’s business in the US.

To contact the authors of this story:
Jennifer Surane in New York [email protected]
Katherine Doherty in New York [email protected]
Natalie Wong in New York [email protected]

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