Whether you view Goldman Sachs as Masters of the Universe or a Giant Vampire Squid, one cannot deny how enormously successful they are. The established model of seducing the brightest and best young talent with a rapid path to riches and then working them to within an inch of their lives, whilst successful, feels increasingly anachronistic and likely to become unsustainable in our (hopefully) soon to be COVID-free world.
David Solomon has made no secret of the fact that he expects things to return to exactly how they were pre-COVID. I am utterly convinced that we are experiencing a generational shift in our relationship with work and that those that embrace this will see the benefits. I'm predicting that David Solomon is going to resemble a King Canute-type figure. For a supposedly talented DJ, he doesn't seem very good at reading the room.
I'm filled with admiration for my colleagues who have demonstrated such courage, commitment and sheer bloody mindedness to make the best of it and continue to deliver work of the highest quality whilst working from home. I used to be a cynic when it came to flexible working. No more.
However effective we can be in doing our jobs working from home, it has become abundantly clear to me that there are significant negative effects to people's development. Like Goldman Sachs, ours is an Apprenticeship Culture, where experienced Exec-level people work closely with less experienced staff and help them develop their skills on the job. They learn through doing under close guidance, through seeing how experienced people tackle difficult problems and through observing them in meetings and hearing them on the phone. Its virtually impossible to replicate this in any meaningful way outside of the office. For this reason I'm convinced that our 'New Normal' will look quite a lot like the old normal - just with a good amount more flexibility enabled by us now knowing that our team is working very hard, whether we can see them doing so, or not. The office will become a place of learning and development. Something we cannot afford to keep on a back-burner for much longer.
A return to 95-hour working weeks? Time will tell, but I think that probably never should have been normal.
The chief executive of Goldman Sachs says it's "great" a group of young analysts raised concerns about working conditions at the investment firm. A group of 13 US employees mocked up a presentation in which they told of 95-hour working weeks and "inhumane" conditions amounting to abuse. Boss David Solomon said in a message: "It's great that this group of analysts went to their management." But he added that going an "extra mile" can make a big difference for the bank. In his address to the investment bank's 34,000 staff worldwide, Mr Solomon said he expected Goldman to continue to face high demand from clients and emphasised the need to meet the challenge, saying hard work brought rewards. "Just remember: if we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we're reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance," he said.