Take more vacations and stop Friday Zoom calls, Citigroup boss tells employees

March 23, 2021, 3:28 PM UTC

Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser has barred internal video calls on Fridays and encouraged vacations in an effort to combat workplace malaise brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fraser, who replaced Michael Corbat earlier this year, said the final day of the working week shall be known as “Zoom-Free Fridays,” according to an internal memorandum obtained by Bloomberg. She also designated May 28 as a firmwide holiday to be known as “Citi Reset Day.”

Staff at Citi, one of the world’s biggest lenders, are also encouraged to avoid scheduling meetings outside of what were normal working hours before the outbreak of Covid-19 kept most of its workers home, according to the memo.

“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 well-being,” Fraser wrote in the memo, which was earlier reported on by Financial News. “It’s simply not sustainable.”

The world’s biggest corporations are trying to adapt to workers’ shifting priorities as lockdowns triggered by the pandemic continue to grind on. Ford Motor Co. told 30,000 employees this month they can work from home even once the pandemic is over. Others are trying to bring more people back to the office, including summer interns, after finding it harder to instill corporate culture via video calls.

Citigroup, for its part, told interns this week that their program will once again be virtual. However, the firm restored it to a 10-week program after curtailing it to just five weeks last year due to the pandemic.

Fraser also said the firm has been weighing what the future of work will look like at the lender over the long term. For many roles, she said Citigroup decided that being in the office is important for competitiveness, collaboration and mentoring young staffers.

The majority of the firm’s roles will be designated as hybrid roles, where workers are in the office at least three days a week and working from home up to two days a week.

Some roles — including branch-based workers and those in data centers — are classified as resident and cannot be performed offsite. The firm will also have some jobs designated as fully remote — such as those supporting contact centers — though Fraser cautioned that new remote roles will be somewhat rare.

“We want our people to feel an attachment to our firm, a sense of pride about serving our clients and a duty to protect the financial system,” Fraser said. “That only happens when we are together — and as we have all experienced, loneliness is not a great feeling.”