Nomura CEO Wades Into Debate on Work-From-Home Productivity

(Bloomberg) — Nomura Holdings Inc.’s chief executive officer has joined the debate on how effective working from home really is, as he weighs how to shape the workforce in the pandemic era.

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A pedestrian holding an umbrella walks past a branch of Nomura Securities Co., a unit of Nomura Holdings Inc., at night in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, July 27, 2020. Nomura Holdings is schedule to announce first-quarter earning figures on July 29.

“There are areas that have been able to stay productive, and there are those that have fallen a bit short,” CEO Kentaro Okuda said Tuesday at a Nikkei financial industry forum. “We’re undertaking a review to find out why, and how we can improve the situation.”

Global finance leaders are assessing the relative merits of working from home, including how the practice might remain once the coronavirus subsides. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon and BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink have warned of the demerits of remote work, while others such as Deutsche Bank AG’s Christian Sewing see the potential to cut costs by trimming office space.

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Okuda, 56, said about 90% of Nomura’s staff in the Americas and 80% in Europe are working from home. Japan’s biggest securities firm had been trying to return European employees to the office but the recent wave of infections has made that difficult, he said.

In Japan, where there are fewer coronavirus cases, about 70% to 80% of staff at the Tokyo head office worked from home during the peak of the crisis, Okuda said.

Nomura is considering cutting space at its Tokyo headquarters and examining its locations overseas following the outbreak, Okuda said in an interview in June. Employees will probably continue to work from home to various degrees in an era of social distancing, he said at the time.

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