As Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing looks to cut operating costs and headcount to try and meet lofty targets for return on shareholder’s tangible equity, he has apparently stumbled upon a novel approach that has been shunned by American rivals like JPM: Making ‘working from home’ a permanent part of Deutsche Bank’s ‘culture’.
According to Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank AG is weighing a new policy that would allow most employees to permanently work from home two days a week as the lender draws lessons from the coronavirus pandemic.
But anonymous representatives from the bank told Bloomberg that the bank is waiting for lawmakers in several countries to pass new work-from-home-friendly legislation.
Deutsche Bank AG is weighing a new policy that would allow most employees to permanently work from home two days a week as the lender draws lessons from the coronavirus pandemic. Germany’s largest bank has been discussing the changes for several months and the two-days rule has emerged as the preferred scenario, people familiar with the matter said. Some regulatory questions still need to be answered and any policy won’t be applied uniformly to all staff, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Deutsche Bank is still waiting for lawmakers in several countries to finalize new remote-work legislation, one person said. It’s also not clear yet how to deal with issues including enforcing confidentiality in a private setting, and such regulatory concerns will likely result in diverging policies for some staff and some countries, the people said.
DB’s move stands in stark contrast to other megabanks, like JP Morgan, whose CEO Jamie Dimon said a couple of months ago that working from home diminishes employees’ “creative intelligence.”
Bloomberg added later on in the story that the WFH plan is part of Sewing’s efforts to reach his “ambitious savings target” which he unveiled last summer.
Goldman and JPM have continue to demand investment bank employees return to the office, long-term work from home policies aren’t unique among the biggest European banks. Some Dutch banks are reportedly targeting long-term WFH rates of 50% or more.
Deutsche is targeting the nearly $2 billion it spent during fiscal year 2019 on furniture and rent for reduction, and believes a permanent WFH scheme could help make a serious impact.
“As publicly known, we are exploring what positive lessons Deutsche Bank can learn from the Covid-19 crisis about how we work as a bank in the future,” Christine Peters, a spokeswoman for the bank, said by email. “We are working on a hybrid model that will combine working from home as well as in the office. No decision has been made yet.”
Sewing isn’t wasting any time: the bank is already working to sublet or walk away from leases as it begins to cut office space along with its headcount (the bank announced plans last year for one of the biggest waves of layoffs since Lehman collapsed).