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Goldman Sachs grabs ‘free coffee’ as bankers return to five-day week

It’s time for Goldman Sachs bankers to wake up and smell the coffee—and pay for it, too.

When employees filed into the Wall Street giant’s lower Manhattan headquarters last Tuesday for a mandatory return to a five-day work week, they got an unwelcome surprise: The “free coffee” station had been taken away, sources told The Post .

The free “grab and go” station at the entrance to 200 West St. — cold brew, as well as stash of French vanilla cream, almond milk, soy milk and half-and-half — emerged during the pandemic to encourage attendance, according to insiders.

But the brass has since decided it doesn̵[ads1]7;t need sweeteners to get people back to the office, sources told The Post. Instead, management now believes that the threat of being fired should be more than enough incentive, the sources said.

“RIP to another pandemic benefit for junior bankers,” lamented one junior Goldman banker. “I’m sure the partners still don’t have to pay for the coffee – or anything in their fancy dining room.”

“Of course they took the coffee away,” added another junior banker. “But I’ve been so thrown since Labor Day that I haven’t really had time to think about it that much.”

Goldman Sachs grabs ‘free coffee’ as bankers return to five-day week
Junior bankers complain that Goldman Sachs has wheeled away the cold brew station.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Natural gas prices are displayed in front of Morgan Stanley in the Times Square area of ​​New York.
Natural gas prices are displayed in front of Morgan Stanley in the Times Square area of ​​New York.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

As for coffee, a source near the notes is still free drip coffee elsewhere in the building, including in the building’s “Sky Lobby” on the 11th floor. The source added that the bank also gave cupcakes to employees on their first day back. Even so, junior employees object that it is difficult to get to and does not have the same quality of cold brew.

At other Wall Street banks, managers and CEOs are embracing the return to normalcy—and the disappearance of benefits that many had long taken for granted.

At Goldman, as well as rivals JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, bankers at all levels are lamenting the loss of free tickets to the US Open tennis championships in Queens. Before the pandemic, the major banks usually made extra tickets available to top performers. But this year, the only way to get a seat is to bring a client, sources added.

Spokesmen at JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the merits of the US Open.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, for his part, has been increasingly aggressive in cutting back on remote work, privately telling executives that he expects the ward to be in the office five days a week — a stricter standard than the bank’s official line of three days per week, according to sources close to the company.

But it is Goldman chief executive David Solomon – who famously called working from home an “aberration” – who has signaled a return to the office with particular force. As first reported by The Post, Goldman told workers in a memo last month that it planned to lift all COVID protocols a week after Labor Day — a sign that it won’t accept excuses for employees to work from home.

In April, Solomon ended free daily rides to and from the office, which the bank had begun offering at the start of the COVID outbreak, The Post first reported. It now limits the benefit to employees who work late into the evening, sources said.

200 West Street
Workers at Goldman Sachs reviewed 200 West Street last week.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

This spring, Goldman similarly announced that employees will again be on the hook for the cost of breakfast and lunch. Goldman increased the meal allowance for dinner to $30 from $25 — two months after The Post reported that employees were griping that they couldn’t even buy a Chipotle dinner with the meager 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.

“There’s a pride that comes with working crazy hours — and Goldman believes the best will have what Solomon requires,” John Breault, managing director 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 demanding a five-day work week even as the bank asked most staff to return at least a few days a week in March.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, meanwhile, has said he will provide more guidance on returning to the office in the next six to eight weeks — and will outline “more formality for the flexibility.”

Not everyone in the congregation is convinced.

“Citibank and Bank of America are the lame banks,” a 20-year-old Wall Street banker who works at a boutique firm told The Post, adding that he would never take a job there.

Still, some of the young bankers who have won awards at Goldman and JPMorgan say they wish they had more flexibility.

“I prefer not to be in the office five days a week,” admitted one junior banker.

“I don’t think anybody wants to be in the office five days a week,” one former Goldman employee, who left to find a more flexible role, told The Post.

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