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Goldman Sachs CEO: remote work is ‘not a new normal’

Some recent studies have shown that there are a number of people who are ready to return to their offices after an extended remote work stint due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Count Goldman Sachs Group Chief Executive Officer David Solomon among that group.

The executive has been vocal about his desire to see the company’s offices reopen. He recently repeated that desire, Bloomberg reports.

“This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal,” Solomon said at a Credit Suisse Group AG conference. “It’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”

Solomon has noted he’d like to see government officials move faster when it comes to making the necessary changes to get employees back to work. He’s also suggested officials use private sector support to expedite the process. Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs were set to bring in a larger group of employees to their vacant buildings last year. Those plans changed quickly when more COVID-19 cases arose. Some in the industry have voiced frustration about the Coronavirus vaccine rollout, which they believe has slowed down the return to pre-COVID-19 world.

“The vaccine distribution and the process of recovery has been a little bit slower in the first quarter than some of us had hoped,” Solomon said. He also noted that the additional government stimulus and the potential for an infrastructure bill after that will provide a “very, very strong tailwind” for economic recovery.

There were times last year that Goldman Sachs had approximately a fourth of its employees back in its New York and London offices and about half of its workforce back in some of its Asia offices, according to Bloomberg.

“That’s obviously backed off in the late fall into the winter as you have the surges that we had,” Solomon said. “That’s a temporary thing.”

Meanwhile, Solomon also wants to see Goldman Sachs’ new hires get introduced to Wall Street from their office desks rather than their homes.

“I am very focused on the fact that I don’t want another class of young people arriving at Goldman Sachs in the summer remotely,” he said.

Planning a safe return to the office

Goldman Sachs isn’t the only company that’s anxious to get its workforce back to its offices. CRE owners are aware of this fact as well and are taking the necessary steps so that tenants feel safe and comfortable when they return to physical office spaces. Such measures include constant cleaning of common areas, creating hands free entryways and elevators and updating or replacing building HVAC systems to create better air ventilation.

Meanwhile, some CRE owners are taking COVID-19 spread prevention a step further and investing in technology that will help keep tenants safe. This includes apps that keep count of how many people are inside the building at a given time to ensure social distancing protocols are being adhered to. Additionally, sensors can be put in place to detect temperature spikes.

In-building cellular solutions provider Geoverse recently announced its partnership with Sigma IT Consulting and Senseware to create a solution that will leverage artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT)-based environmental sensing and private cellular networks to provide organizations with a safer environment as they return to their office spaces. The solution includes thermal cameras that can detect if a tenant or visitor has an elevated temperature and needs to be isolated. It also provides real-time status information to alert CRE owners to adjust their HVAC systems and to advise tenants of the building’s current conditions so they can respond accordingly.

It’s these types of solutions that will let companies like Goldman Sachs know that their long-awaited return to their offices will be safe.

“The critical task employers have is to build confidence among their employee base that their offices are safe,” Brookfield Head of Real Estate for Europe, Zach Vaughan, told The Wall Street Journal last year.

Joe Dyton can be reached at joed@fifthgenmedia.com.

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