During the boom times, people regularly had sex in the office.
Well, regularly might be an exaggeration. But when associates at the huge law firm Skadden Arps started at their jobs, they were typically told the story of a pair of attorneys who were caught having sex in a conference room. It turned out the conference room was visible from the elevators, and the couple was caught on the elevator cameras. The point of this story was to encourage associates to use better judgment.
A similar story used to be told at JP Morgan. And there was a story about a guy at Bear Stearns who had sex with two different women on two different floors in the same day.
According to completely non-scientific and anecdotal evidence we collected talking to an HR person at a major Wall Street firm, this isn’t happening anymore. The boom apparently encouraged this kind of crazed behaviour and the decline has reigned it in.
“People just aren’t having sex in the office any more,” the HR person said. “It’s like the crash dampened their hormones.”
We raised the point that maybe people were being more cautious about office sex. Couldn’t they just be not getting caught?
“No way. Believe me, if you are having sex in the office, people find out. There’s just no way to keep that long term secret,” the person said. She then pointed to her glass and indicated that we were supposed to buy her a drink for this valuable information. So we did.
We wonder whether sex in the office is a proxy for other bad behaviour. Does insider trading decline during downturns? How about fixing trading books? Drugs in the restroom? Unfortunately, it’s hard to uncover any data on this because very often bad behaviour goes undiscovered until a downturn happens. That makes it appear that downturns are crime ridden periods.
We’d bet that it is not just office sex, but bad behaviour all around, that declines during troubled times.
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