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Citi offices in Toronto, Canada. Image: © JHVEPhoto/Stock.adobe.com

‘Zoom-free Fridays’ and hybrid working on the way for Citi

25 Mar 2021

Citi CEO Jane Fraser issued a memo to employees outlining company-wide actions to tackle Zoom fatigue and diminishing work-life balance.

We’ve been working from home for a little more than a year now and over the past 12 months Zoom calls have become a permanent fixture in many people’s daily lives. Instead of meeting colleagues, friends and family in person, our catch-ups have been limited to our computer screens.

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It didn’t take long for so much screen time to take its toll. In June of last year, we wrote about the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue and its impact on work-life balance. At the time, Panopto’s Peter Ingle described how overusing any video-conferencing system can lead to “mental exhaustion”.

In an internal company memo earlier this week, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser addressed the same issue. “I know from your feedback and my own experience, the blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our wellbeing,”she told employees.

“It’s simply not sustainable. Since a return to any kind of new normal is still a few months away for many of us, we need to reset some of our working practices.”

To that end, Fraser outlined three actions for Citi staff: to take part in Zoom-free Fridays, to set healthy work boundaries and to take vacation days.

“After listening to colleagues around the world, it became apparent we need to combat the Zoom fatigue that many of us feel, so I overcame my initial resistance to this idea,” she added.

“There still will be client and regulator meetings that need to happen via Zoom, but any internal meetings occurring on Fridays (or an equivalent day in the Middle East) should happen as audio-only calls.”

Citi staff will also take part in a company-wide holiday or ‘reset day’ on Friday 28 May, according to the memo.

Hybrid working at Citi

Fraser went on to explain that the organisation will have three new working models when employees return to the workplace after the pandemic.

The majority of employees around the world will follow a hybrid model, working in the office for at least three days each week and from home for up to two days a week. “This is not just a scheduling exercise; we will be thoughtful about when we ask colleagues to be in the office together,” Fraser said.

People in roles that can’t be performed off-site will be ‘resident’, she added, which may include staff at Citi data centres. Finally, some fully remote employees will be allowed to work from anywhere.

“Apart from roles that were remote before the pandemic, such as those supporting our contact centres, new remote roles will be somewhat rare,” she said.

Many other companies are also planning for hybrid working after the pandemic. Earlier this week, Microsoft said that, depending on role requirements, employees will be allowed to work from home less than 50pc of the time.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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