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Photo: Goldman Sachs

Monday was the first day back in the office for Goldman Sachs employees in New York.

Why it matters: The move brings an influx of office workers into lower Manhattan, the second-largest central business district in the country. It also marks a clear inflection point for the finance industry.

What they're saying: Bloomberg's Jennifer Surane was on the scene:

"Early this morning, employees high-fived and hugged each other as they streamed into Goldman’s Manhattan office in the drizzling rain. They’ll be greeted by free food in the cafeteria and an array of food trucks with music blaring all week"

This is all an attempt to get bankers to start physically encountering each other again — a way to kick-start the kind of serendipitous conversations that proponents of working-from-the-office, including Goldman CEO David Solomon, love to extol.

The intrigue: Goldman's decision to reopen sets up a natural experiment vs. Citigroup, which has largely kept its offices closed.

What to watch: Will the office energy give Goldman a competitive advantage? Or will the freedom of work-from-home make Citi the employer of choice for parents, remote workers and people who don't love schlepping to lower Manhattan every day?

Of note: The surprisingly long walk from Goldman's elevators to the food trucks will also force employees to reacquaint themselves with Mural, the 80-foot-long painting by Julie Mehretu that dominates the view of the Goldman lobby from the street.

  • The multilayered work includes architectural drawings of banks and mercantile exchanges, as well as references to trade routes, the growth of cities and other indicia of the way in which Goldman sits at the center of the world's most complex financial web.
  • The New Yorker's Calvin Tompkins called it "the most ambitious painting I’ve seen in a dozen years." Now it is a symbol of the way in which Goldman is weaving back together its disparate employee base.

Go deeper

Aug 6, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

It's wait-and-see for Twin Cities office workers

Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank are delaying their return to office dates. Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Twin Cities companies used pencil when they circled Sept. 7 as their return-to-office date.

Driving the news: With the Delta variant spreading, two of the metro’s largest employers of office workers — U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo — delayed their decisions to call back most of their employees in September.

  • Eagan-based Prime Therapeutics had been planning to bring workers back to the office Aug. 2, but has pushed that date to Sept. 7, said company spokeswoman Karen Lyons.

Why it matters: Retailers, restaurants and hotels that thrive off downtown offices have been eagerly awaiting workers' return after 17 months without much commerce.

  • But going back into the office can also be a major lift for some employees, including those who have to arrange care for children or other family members.
Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

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