BlackRock calls employees back to the office four days a week

BlackRock will require employees to go to the office for at least four days a week, the latest company to curtail liberal work-from-home policies enacted in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The New York-based asset manager with about 20,000 employees in more than 30 countries said that from September 11, staff would be able to work from home just one day a week, according to an internal memo.

“We encourage you to transition into this model by increasing your in-office days, as your schedule permits, over the next few months,” said the memo signed by Rob Goldstein, chief operating officer, and Caroline Heller, head of human resources.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with more than $9tn under management, joins a growing corporate push to have employees spend more time in the office. JPMorgan Chase announced in April that it would require managing directors to return to the office five days a week.

The order will provide modest relief to owners of offices and adjacent businesses that have suffered as work from home persists. Office occupancy in New York City is still just under 50 per cent — about the same as the national average — according to a barometer produced by Kastle Systems, the company that operates the security systems in many buildings.

Speaking to investors in February, Steven Roth, chief executive of Vornado Realty Trust, one of New York’s largest office landlords, conceded that the five-day work week was finished. “I think you can assume that Friday is dead forever,” Roth said. Monday, he added, was “touch and go”.

BlackRock’s order adds a day to its current requirement of three days a week in the office. It said its new policies were meant to encourage collaboration and training. “Career development happens in teaching moments between team members, and it is accelerated during market-moving moments . . . All of this requires us to be together in the office,” according to the memo.

The company moved into a new headquarters in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards development at the beginning of 2023, bringing employees from its old Midtown office during the first quarter of the year. It signed the lease for the unbuilt 970,000-square-foot space seven years ago.

“We have felt the energy generated by being together, in our larger offices, our newer spaces . . . this energy, and the horizontal collaboration it powers, are what make BlackRock so special,” the memo said.

Employees would be expected to “consistently adhere to the . . . requirements” to be in the office four days a week. Employees would still be able to work remotely for two weeks a year during a “relevant” time period, such as the summer.

BlackRock said: “When fast-moving, high-client-interest events are happening, having our teams physically together to find solutions, seize opportunities and learn from each other makes a difference . . . See you in the office!”

Additional reporting by Joshua Chaffin in New York

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