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World’s largest asset manager now wants people in the office 4 days a week

The trend continues. BlackRock — the world’s largest asset manager with about 20,000 employees in more than 30 countries — announced today that employees need to be in the office at least 4 days a week starting this September. This is an increase from the current 3 days a week.

You can’t read the news today without seeing some sort of headline about the demise of downtowns. But what is clear from announcements like these is that we still have yet to reach an equilibrium. And it’s probably just taking a lot longer than most people initially anticipated.

I know that this is a very divisive topic and that many of you think I’m old school for continuing to say this. But I fundamentally believe that there are irreplaceable benefits to in-person interactions among teams. I don’t know, maybe it’s because of my architecture background.

In architecture school you’re expected to spend all of your time “working in studio.” And even though you’re often working and producing things on your own, you do it so that you can be around your peers, shout out questions when you need help, learn from their work, and go for burritos and beers together.

And it was such a fun and creative experience for me that I can’t imagine what it would have been like had I been forced to work from my apartment. I probably would have had an equal number of burritos, but maybe a lot less beer?


  1. johnbarnott

    This is just an educated guess but I suspect that what we are seeing is a gradual societal shift in work/life balance; the pandemic simply accelerated it. If you look at the work of Mill, Marx, Ahrendt and others the concept of ‘work as life’ is predominant. But in our contemporary simplistic concept of work we define it as something that is only done in an office with our peers, it does not include the work of household chores and child-raising that we compartmentalise to others whether that be our spouses, extended family or hired caregivers. The digital society claims to enable closer connection; in fact it does precisely the opposite, kids no longer play in the street with other kids, they do it with anonymous ‘beings’ on their phones, pads, or games. Maybe this is society’s way of rebelling; the pandemic enabled it.


  2. squarefootca

    Collaboration is a concept experienced by cultural times. People are tribal in nature. The office will come back.
    Certain personalities work better alone without the distraction of the office. Accepting and honoring those that thrive in their own head is as good for the collective.

    In my 40 years of commercial real estate practice I have seen the evolution of single agent stars to mega teams. If you had suggested that agents would ever work ‘together’ and ‘share’ 30 years, 20 years, 15 years ago I would have thrown a tin hat on your head. The advancement of technology and the need to keep up have evolved business and single stars are not what the service industry needs to assist clients. Collaboration with others ensures clients interests can come first when a team (with built in succession) is working toward that goal. Teams don’t play alone, they play together. Let the support workers that services the team work from home.
    Teams need to be together. The office will come back. Service demands it.


  3. Nancy

    They’re not doing this to get people together, they’re doing it to protect their real estate assets.

    From the NYT this morning…..

    Private-sector workers in office buildings make about double the average annual salary than everyone else, according to the New York State Comptroller, underscoring their significance to the city’s economy.

    That entire ecosystem collapsed during the early months of the pandemic as office workers shifted to remote work. Three years later, it has been slow to recover as remote work remains popular, causing companies to reduce their office footprints. That retreat has led to the high vacancy rates.


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