Wall Street is bringing bankers back to offices redone for the hybrid era

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New office life staples go beyond hand sanitizer and air filters. For some Wall Street banks, they also involve natural light, lots of plants, and cold draft brew.

As plans to return to the office gather pace – in hopes they will to stick on this time around, many bosses are adopting new configurations and perks meant to evoke the comforts of home. At Mizuho Americas, Bank of Montreal and Deutsche Bank AG, the changes went even further: New York workers returned from the pandemic to entirely different buildings.

The moves, although planned long before Covid hit, have given banks an opportunity to rearrange space for new types of work, especially as each company adopts hybrid policies allowing many employees to work. be remote at least part of the week. From pool tables to open seating, their arrangements show how once bland Wall Street offices are transforming into a shared collaborative space more reminiscent of Silicon Valley’s tech digs.

“The focus is on well-being, air filtration, the idea that natural light is part of the environment, the possibility of seeing the sun move in the sky during the day” , said Mary Ann Tighe, New York Tri-State Region General Manager for CBRE Group Inc. brokerage. “These values ​​have moved to the top of the office space hierarchy among financial services companies.”

It’s a trend likely to continue: In January, Citigroup Inc. announced it would restructure its Tower of London to “reflect the changing nature of work”, with a focus on shared spaces and new technologies.

For banks, office renovations aren’t just about providing additional benefits for employees. They compete to retain and attract new talent, not only from other financial companies, but also from tech and cryptocurrency companies. Cost reduction is also a factor, with some companies simply finding ways to do more with less space.

With Covid worries ebbing, this month is shaping up to be a key month for New York’s efforts to bring workers back. A month of January investigation by the Partnership for New York City revealed that the majority of Manhattan employers believe their daily office presence 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 staff returned.

Mizuho Americas
Former address: 320 Park Ave.
New address: 1271 Avenue des Amériques

Mizuho moved to its new Midtown tower – originally known as the Time & Life Building – in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. The move brought together the firm’s securities operations, which were originally based at 320 Park Ave., and bankers who were located across the street at 1251 Avenue of the Americas, where the company still has a bit of space.

The company gave employees the option to return to work in person in September. Last month, employees were told they had to be back, although most are still operating on a hybrid basis.

“There is an energy in the office and it seems more permanent this time. Lots of smiles and gatherings again in the lounges and staging areas,” said Jerry Rizzieri, Managing Director of Mizuho Securities USA. “Some have not seen each other for two years and for our new recruits, this is their first time in the office.”

They’re greeted in cafeterias stocked with cold draft brews and dining halls that overlook the stretch of road made famous by Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Many spaces feature large artwork that alludes to Mizuho’s Japanese roots.

The company now has three types of meeting spaces in its new offices, including central cafes for small, impromptu gatherings, so-called meeting rooms for meetings of up to four people, and conference rooms for groups. more important.

Each room is equipped with video conferencing technology aimed at ensuring that everyone, whether at home or in the office, is on an equal footing during meetings. The market halls, which can hold up to 800 people each, are even equipped with extra benches to make room for unexpected confabs.

“For our junior employees, we’re a learning company, so face-to-face, spontaneous collaboration is nice to see,” Rizzieri said.

Bank of Montreal
Former address: 3 Times Square
New address: 4 Times Square

BMO is giving up on reserving corner offices for senior executives. In the Toronto-based firm’s new Times Square tower, senior bankers are located in the middle of the floor, allowing junior employees to book office space around the exterior of the building where natural light is plentiful.

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

BMO launched filling its New York location with bankers last month, with most staff expected to return to a hybrid base in early April. Its new building, which shares a common space with Nasdaq and TikTok, includes a view of the New Year’s Ball – as well as the bank’s old offices. Employees can look out the windows at their old workspace, their old wooden desks still there.

Conference rooms are equipped with large screens to facilitate video calls for staff working from home. For those attending in-person meetings, sofas replace traditional office chairs.

“We had a small edge because we were already planning a hybrid work environment and thinking about collaboration in our design,” Hinton said. “The pandemic has only accelerated ideas about the future of work.”

Updated space amenities include lockers for workers who want to store their belongings without taking up dedicated office space. The ninth floor offers a terrace for outdoor entertaining.

German Bank
Former address: 60 Wall St.
New address: 10 Columbus Circle

With its move last summer, Deutsche Bank became the latest banking giant to leave Wall Street in lower Manhattan, the longtime bastion of the financial industry. The German lender has swapped its mahogany and marble-laden headquarters for a new location in Midtown’s Columbus Circle. There, the company has installed a multitude of planters that stretch along the wall that towers above the company’s more than 500 traders.

As the company planned to allow more staff into its new Manhattan workspace, it began to reconfigure the way it designed personal offices to ensure staff could meet in person. and by videoconference. He also installed large patios for employees to congregate outdoors with views of the southwest corner of Central Park.

The Frankfurt-based company has a social space called Der Bar where teams and smaller groups can meet and relax. Nearby, employees can try their hand at table tennis or at the pool during downtime.

Deutsche Bank has stepped up office events as it welcomes more of its employees. The building requires Covid-19 vaccination for entry and employees will be tested for the virus onsite at an expanded medical facility weekly.

“It was great to walk around and feel the energy of colleagues connecting and teams working together, and it’s great to bump into so many people I’ve only seen on a computer screen for more than two years,” said Christiana Riley, CEO. of Deutsche Bank’s activities in the Americas.

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