Watch this space: Morgan Stanley revamps offices to attract Millennial workers

October 9, 2018

Morgan Stanley, the multinational investment bank and financial services firm, has announced plans to remodel about 1.2 million square feet of office space in its branches worldwide over the next 15 months.

The goal is to attract Millennials to the Morgan Stanley workforce by designing a much more engaging and tech-savvy business environment.

As part of the project, called Workplace Evolution, the company will move its technology experts closer to its brokers, traders, and bankers, Head of Technology Rob Rooney told Bloomberg in an interview posted on October 8.

Changes initially will be made to the space used by the company’s wealth-management operations—where the bank is using new algorithms and machine learning to help more than 15,000 brokers make trade suggestions to clients and handle more routine tasks. Then, the trading floors, investment-banking offices and space tied to asset management will all get a remake.

 “The workplace needed to be designed around a much more dynamic, Millennial kind of workforce,” said Rooney, 51, who stepped into the technology role this year. “We’re trying to attract the next generation of the best and brightest.”

Demolition work at One New York Plaza in lower Manhattan already has created open floor plans that offer employees expansive views of the Statue of Liberty and Hudson River—a perk previously reserved for senior executives cloistered in their wood-walled offices. Now, glass partitions and interactive whiteboards abound, and the dress code is decidedly more casual.

The first phase represents about 9,000 seats around the world, although the project may expand, Rooney told the business news outlet.

Modernization isn’t optional for a firm like Morgan Stanley, Ekene Ezulike, global head of Corporate Services, told Bloomberg. “The question is how quickly we do it, versus whether we should do it,” he said.

As little as 60% of Morgan Stanley’s work space is occupied at any given time, according to Ezulike, who said the changes will push that rate as high as 90% as options such as desk sharing let more people use fewer seats.

Despite the less stuffy dress code and other updates, Morgan Stanley shouldn’t be confused with a Silicon Valley startup, Rooney told the news outlet. While there’s no kombucha on tap as there is at Goldman Sachs’s revamped San Francisco offices, there are common dining rooms, and the firm hired its first-ever community manager, Fiona Thomas. She helps plan office get-togethers and is overseeing a meditation event that was oversubscribed.

Research contact: @sonalibasak

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