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BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, may never be 100% back in the office, CEO Fink says

Laurence “Larry” Fink, chairman and chief executive officer of BlackRock.

Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As work from home stretches on, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said he doesn’t ever foresee all employees returning to the office.

“I don’t believe BlackRock will be ever 100% back in office,” he said Thursday at the Morningstar Investment Conference. “I actually believe maybe 60% or 70%, and maybe that’s a rotation of people. But I don’t believe we’ll ever have a full, you know, cadre of people in office,” he said.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $7.4 trillion in assets under management.

“It’s going to be a new workforce. It’s going to be a new paradigm, but I do believe it will be a better paradigm for the firm,” he said.

Companies were forced to send employees home in March in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, and Fink called the realization that we can work from home “one of the great humanistic discoveries.”

That said, he was quick to note that some tasks are better performed in the office, and that there are downsides to having many employees working remotely. 

“Cultures were not meant to be done in a remote fashion, and culture is what binds and unifies us as an organization,” he said. “I’m still not sure how well we’re doing on a cultural basis. Operationally, we’ve done fantastic.”

He noted the firm’s heavy investments in technology as aiding work-from-home operations.

“Through technology we’ve been operating really well, really efficiently. But I really am worried about this whole idea of culture. How long can you keep that culture together?” he said.

As of last week, about 30% of the firm’s leading executives were back in the office. Fink said that starting next week he will be back in the office on a more regular basis — “at least three days a week.”

When thinking about bringing employees back to the office, one of the primary considerations is ensuring that men and women can return in equal measures. This is top of mind while children remain at home, since women are often the primary caregiver.

“I don’t believe we will be the same operational firm we were pre-Covid,” he noted, adding that he believes the company will be a “better firm” in the wake of the pandemic.

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