HBO Industry Explains How Wall St. Bosses Are Pushing Office Return

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  • HBO”Industry“, a series set in an investment bank, returned for its second season on Monday.
  • It captured how much real-life Wall Street CEOs preferred employees to return to the office.
  • The season resumes in the aftermath of a pandemic, as employees return to the office.

“Industry,” an HBO series centered on a fictional London-based investment bank and recent graduates who have fought for jobs, returned for its second season on Monday.

With its return, the series draws inspiration from real-life events and the season picks up in the aftermath of a pandemic. This means that the employees of the company, Pierpoint, have returned to the office – except for Harper (played by Myha’la Herrold), who works from a hotel.

This caused tension between her and her co-workers, and it shows how real banking firms have preferred employees to be in the office.

The episode kicks off with Eric (Ken Leung), Harper’s manager, berating her on a video call for working “from home”. He insists the New York branch is watching closely.

“You have to come in,” Eric said. “Everyone’s back in the office… How many weeks did I give you while everyone’s back? I’m not going to keep asking. You’ve been out long enough.”

When Harper pushes back, he steps in: “You’re invisible where you are,” he adds.

Later in the episode, Rishi (Sagar Radia), an associate at the firm, taunts Harper, who is back in the office, after fumbling for a call with a client. When she asks him if he has a problem with her, he makes a scene.

“My problem is that we’ve had an empty seat at this goddamn desk since we got back,” Rishi said.

Harper’s criticism very much reflects Wall Street’s tough stance on getting employees back into the office.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told a conference last year that virtual training for entry-level banking professionals was “an aberration that we’re going to fix as soon as possible.”

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman told a financial summit this year that there was a difference between those in “Jobland” (work from home) and “Careerland” (work in the office).

“A lot of us got into the ‘Jobland’ mindset,” Gorman said. “Well, if you’re in ‘Careerland’, you have to be around other people to learn a bit from them.”

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and other banks have started tracking employee ID scans to keep tabs on office traffic. Employees who don’t meet their office quotas can have their bonuses and promotions threatened, as Insider previously reported.

Insider hasn’t watched “Industry” beyond the first episode of the new season, however, and Harper could still prove to her colleagues that she’s effective outside of the office.

Billionaire Jesse Bloom aka “Mr. COVID” (Jay Duplass) has been unreachable for the company, but he swam at the Harper Hotel and could be a potential client if she plays her cards right.

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