William Blair expects to pursue a ‘hybrid’ work arrangement

Lights illuminate office floors in the Societe Generale SA building in the Canary Wharf business, financial and shopping district of London, U.K., on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Londoners are steadily increasing their use of public transport after schools reopened, freeing parents to go back to the workplace. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
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William Blair expects to pursue a “hybrid” staffing model combining in-office and remote work, Chief Executive Officer John Ettelson said.

The investment bank’s businesses are all functioning well with about 90% of employees at home during the pandemic, Ettelson said Monday at SIFMA’s annual meeting, held virtually this year.

William Blair, with roughly 1,500 workers and offices in 15 cities worldwide, has found mentoring younger employees and bringing on new clients to be more difficult in a remote setting, Ettelson said. But, overall, “virtually all of our business can be done from home,” he said. The bank has found that even trading “can be done from literally anywhere in the world.”

Ettelson’s comments differ from those of executives at some major banks. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said earlier Monday at the same conference that he sees the bank being flexible with work arrangements going forward but still “firmly believes” working in person is important for mentorship and creativity. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has been encouraging people to return to the office.

Ettelson said William Blair will be pursuing a hybrid model not for cost savings, but due to the “effectiveness” of aspects of remote work. More people can attend virtual meetings and conferences, he said.

“Since things are working as well as they are from work from home, we don’t see the need to encourage people to be back in any fashion, more so than they’re comfortable doing,” Ettelson said.

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