J.P. Morgan Moves Investment Bankers Into Open Office Spaces

February 22, 2019, 1:34 PM UTC

J.P. Morgan Chase is breaking barriers—literally. The bank is tearing down walls in many of its investment banking offices and instituting shared desks, an approach that has been popular in the tech industry for years, according to Reuters.

Walls came tumbling down for J.P. Morgan’s investment bankers in San Francisco and are in the process in Dallas, Phoenix, and Columbus, Ohio. Instead of private offices, there are booths like you might see in a diner, quiet zones, and big tables to share.

Goldman Sachs made the same move in 2017. Morgan Stanley is currently doing the same.

The motivation is, appropriately enough, money. By eliminating physical offices, J.P. Morgan (JPM) can put more people onto a floor of office space. That can mean significant savings on office space. Lease rates in San Francisco are above $80 a square foot per year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In Arizona, prices are around $31 according to real estate site SquareFoot. Dallas office space is also around $30 a square foot, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

But there may be other prices to pay. Status becomes a significant factor for employees in banking. “We have historically been very hierarchical,” Noah Wintroub, a San Francisco-based vice chairman of investment banking at J.P. Morgan, told the Wall Street Journal. “When you become a managing director you have this kind of office.”

And, as studies have shown, open office designs can actually decrease personal collaboration, reduce productivity, and even promote sexism, Fast Company reported.