It’s time for Goldman Sachs bankers to wake up and smell the coffee — and pay for it, too.
As employees filed into the Wall Street giant’s headquarters in lower Manhattan last Tuesday for a mandatory return to a five-day work week, they got an unwelcome surprise: The “free coffee” station had been wheeled away, sources told The Post.
The complimentary “grab and go” station at the entrance of 200 West St. — cold-brew, as well as stashes of French vanilla creamer, almond milk, soy milk and half-and-half — had appeared during the pandemic to encourage attendance, according to insiders.
But the brass has since determined it doesn’t need sweeteners to get people back to the office, sources told The Post. Instead, management now believes the threat of getting fired should more than enough incentive, the sources said.
“RIP to another pandemic perk for junior bankers,” one junior Goldman banker lamented. “I’m sure the partners still don’t have to pay for their coffee — or anything in their fancy dining hall.”
“Of course they took the coffee away,” another junior banker added. “But I’ve been so slammed since Labor Day I haven’t really had time to think too much about it.”
Natural gas prices are displayed in front of Morgan Stanley in the Times Square neighborhood of New York.Bloomberg via Getty Images
As for coffee, a source close to the bank notes there is still free drip coffee elsewhere in the building, including at the building’s “Sky Lobby” on the 11th floor. The source added the bank also provided cupcakes to employees on their first day back. Still, junior employees counter that it’s a hassle to get to and doesn’t have the same quality of cold brew.
At other banks on Wall Street, executives and CEOs are embracing the return to normalcy — and the disappearance of perks that many had long taken for granted.
At Goldman as well as rivals JPMorgan an Morgan Stanley, bankers at all levels are lamenting the loss of free tickets to the US Open tennis championship in Forest Hills, Queens. Before the pandemic, the big banks typically made extra tickets available to top performers. But this year, the only way to nab a seat is to bring a client, sources add.
Spokespeople at JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the US Open perks.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, for his part, has grown increasingly aggressive with a clampdown on remote work, privately telling senior managers he expects the rank and file to be at the office five days a week — a more stringent standard than the bank’s official line of three days a week, according to sources close to the company.
But it’s Goldman CEO David Solomon — who famously called working from home an “aberration” — who has signaled the return to office with particular force. As first reported by The Post, Goldman told workers in a memo last month it planned to lift all COVID protocols a week after Labor Day — a sign it won’t accept excuses for employees to work from home.
In April, Solomon ended free daily car rides to and from the office, which the bank had begun offering at the start of the COVID outbreak, The Post was first to report. It now limits the perk to employees who work well into the evening, sources said.
Workers at Goldman Sachs filed into 200 West Street last week.Bloomberg via Getty Images
This spring, Goldman likewise announced that employees will once again be on the hook for the cost of breakfast and lunch.Goldman did hike its meal allowance for dinner to $30 from $25 — two months after The Post reported staff were griping they couldn’t even buy a Chipotle dinner with the stingy stipend.
For some employees, however, part of Goldman’s allure is the prestige of working long hours in addition to getting face time with the boss.
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“There’s a pride that comes with working crazy hours — and Goldman thinks the best will want what Solomon is demanding,” John Breault, CEO of recruiting firm Breault & Smith told The Post.
Other banks have taken a more relaxed approach to returning to the office. Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser — who famously banned Zoom meetings on Fridays in response to employee fatigue — has refrained from requiring a five-day work week although the bank asked most employees to return at least a few days a week in March.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, meanwhile, has said he will give more guidance about returning to the office in the next six to eight weeks — and will outline “more formality to the flexibility.”
Not all of the rank and file are convinced.
“Citibank and Bank of America are the lame banks,” one 20-something Wall Street banker who works at a boutique firm told The Post, adding he’d never take a job there.
Still, some of the young bankers who have landed prize gigs at Goldman and JPMorgan say they wish they had more flexibility.
“I’d prefer not to be in the office five days a week,” one junior banker conceded.
“I don’t think anyone wants to be in the office five days a week,” a former Goldman employee, who left to find a more flexible role, told The Post.