JPMorgan Chase is wrong about ‘working from home’


FINTECH SNARK TANK COMMENTS

According Yahoo! Finance:

“Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has called Work from Home (WFH) and Zoom “management by Hollywood Squares,” reiterating his longstanding preference for workers to return to the office.”

The article goes on to say that “Dimon has argued that remote work creates a less honest and more procrastination-prone work environment,” and quoted the Chase CEO saying, “many people at home send text messages, sometimes saying what a jerk that person is.

Who are you calling a jerk?

“A lot of people are at home texting each other, saying what a jerk this person is”?

Eh?

If anything, people text each other, sayin’ some jerk other nobody is.

People are texting each other, though—from the office as well as from your home.

You know what people in the office do all day? They shop online, text friends, chat with co-workers, attend meetings, and sometimes do real work.

Like what people do at home.

Explanation of procrastination

Dimon says working from home creates a “more procrastinating” environment.

Do you have proof?

After getting up ridiculously early, showering, getting dressed, eating, driving to the station (praying for a parking spot), sitting on a train, then did it at at the office, what is the first thing you want to do when you get to work?

If you said “get to work for the next four hours” you are a lying masochist.

Here is the problem for most of us: Obtain work is work. At the time when we obtain to work, we need a break.

JPMorgan Oceania

The Yahoo! the article said:

“Dimon said working from home is not suitable for JPMorgan employees. He argued that remote work doesn’t work for people who want to hustle, doesn’t work for culture, doesn’t work for idea generation.”

And sitting in a windowless conference room with colleagues eating their lunch (and chewing with their mouths open) is good for idea generation? I guess if you don’t have inspirational posters on your walls at home and toys and gadgets on your desk, you won’t be creative.

The root of Dimon’s misguided view of working from home is his comment that it’s “a bad choice for JPMorgan employees.”

It is true that the WFH is a poor choice for some JPMorgan employees. But that suits some (perhaps many) JPMorgan employees just fine.

So when Dimon says WFH “doesn’t work for the culture,” he’s implying that JPMorgan’s culture isn’t flexible and can’t (or won’t) accommodate the individual needs and preferences of its employees. .

I can’t imagine that’s how Dimon wants his company to be perceived.

Dimon, mystifyingly, claimed that working from home hinders diversity.

One study cited by Yahoo!, however, found that only 19% of African Americans worked from home, while another found that 50% wanted to work from home.

It’s hard to see how Dimon can reconcile these findings with his claim of “diversity.”

According to Yahoo! :

“JPMorgan tracks ID card reads to ensure compliance with the new policy and to monitor the time employees spend on Zoom and to better measure productivity.”

Seriously? Is a “Big Brother is watching you” culture really what Dimon is trying to cultivate? Might as well rename the company JPMorgan Oceania.

Productivity is a culture and a personal thing

It’s ironic that banks are obsessed with “personalizing” customer marketing efforts, but can’t apply that thinking to employee policies.

However, “personalization” is about more than meeting the needs and wants of each employee. Tom Prohaska, CEO of Idaho Trust Bank, Told The financial mark:

“You can have all the Zoom calls in the world, but there’s no substitute for face-to-face relationships.”

Prohaska is spot on, but different types interactions influence the importance of face-to-face communication versus distance communication. Weekly team status meetings can be done on Zoom. Strategic planning meetings and employee performance review meetings are best in person.

Even though I affirmed the previous sentence, the reality is that a company’s unique situation can prove it wrong.

A company I worked for was “remote” from day one. One of the four founders worked on the opposite coast from his partners, and many of the original employees lived across the country.

From the start, staff got used to working remotely and communicating via instant messaging (this was before Zoom and before Slack). Plus, the company was (and still is) made up of people with an average of over 20 years of industry experience – highly motivated people who didn’t need a lot of guidance and supervision.

Productivity, creativity and innovation do not depend on where things get done – they depend on the culture of the company and the personal motivations and incentives that drive the behavior.

These factors (culture and personal experience) dictate (or enable) a certain style of communication and collaboration.

It’s surprising that Jamie Dimon, one of banking’s most forward-thinking CEOs, takes such a tough stance on working from home. I suspect that Dimon:

  • Prefers to yell (make his direct reports “talk”) face to face and assumes that this is how all managers should communicate with their teams.
  • Liked (and was comfortable with) Chase’s pre-pandemic culture, resists the changes that have taken place, and wants to “go back” to the old ways.

There is no turning back.

There is no single culture at Chase

In a bank the size of Chase, there are a multitude of “corporate cultures” at the level of divisions, product lines and even teams. A work-from-home policy that works for one team (product line or division) may not be optimal (or even practical) for another.

Some people will say that having multiple policies is not “fair”.

Absurdity. If your job title is Assistant Branch Manager, you must be “in the office” all the time. If your job is as a corporate financial analyst, you may not need to be in the office all the time.

We are experiencing the “great resignation”. People who don’t like their company’s telecommuting policy will look for another job.

I suspect that’s what some Chase employees will end up doing.

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