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Deutsche Bank orders managers into office 4 days a week after praising remote work productivity

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German banking giant Deutsche has joined a growing list of companies clamping down on work-from-home policies by ordering its 85,000 staffers back to the office, in an apparent walkback after consistently praising the productivity benefits of remote work.

According to a memo first seen by Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank has told managers that they must come back to the office four days a week from June, while other employees are now required to be in the office three days per week.

What’s more, employees have been banned from working at home consecutively on a Friday followed by a Monday, ruling out remote working weekend getaways.

Deutsche clamps down on remote work

Deutsche’s move represents a turnaround on previously liberal work-from-home policies introduced by the bank during COVID-19, which allowed staff to spend 40-60% of their week working remotely.

The lender has publicized the successes of this liberal hybrid model.

Deutsche said seven in 10 staffers felt the policy was in line or above their expectations, while 87% of employees felt productive under the setup.

Even with its more restrictive working policies, Deutsche is continuing to amplify the benefits of a hybrid model.

Confirming the authenticity of the memo to Fortune, a spokesperson for Deutsche said: “The bank remains committed to our hybrid working model, which has been received extremely positively by staff.

“Its new guidelines will ensure consistency across the bank and strengthen senior leadership presence in the office, which remains the primary place of work.”

Deutsche’s move to get staffers back under its noses marks the latest in a growing wave of major companies reining in remote work policies.

In August, Goldman Sachs called on all its workers to return to the office five days a week, reminding employees that this was a long-term policy.  

Accountancy group EY has taken to tracking its employees to monitor how often they make it into the office, but it has so far been disappointed by the results. 

Tracking data suggested at least half of employees were failing to hit the minimum requirement of working in the office two days a week. 

Real estate headache

Deutsche’s past commitment to a more flexible hybrid model was in part driven by plans to cut its outgoings.

The bank wants to reduce costs across the company by €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) by 2025, and said earlier in February it was laying off 3,500 employees as part of that effort.

The cost-cutting push is also taking shape through moves to reduce its real estate footprint.

The bank said last year that it wanted to cut office space at its key Frankfurt office, where most of its employees work, by 40%. 

But as it looks to cut down on its prohibitive real estate bill, the group may realize it can’t have its cake and eat it by forcing managers back into the office four days a week.

It’s currently unclear whether the bank’s more restrictive policy will impact its real estate plans.

In the memo seen by Bloomberg, Deutsche CEO Christian Sewing and COO Rebecca Short said current real estate usage was “inefficient,” and they aim “to spread our presence more evenly across the week,”

Deutsche previously told Bloomberg that it wants to move its employees to “just a few buildings” that will be fitted “with a higher standard and designed to facilitate collaborative work.”

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