Citigroup CEO ordains Zoom-free Fridays to ease ‘relentless’ pandemic workday

Global investment bank Citigroup has banned work video calls on Fridays in an attempt to help employees break free from the “relentlessness of the pandemic workday”.

Jane Fraser, Citi’s new chief executive, told staff that the last day of the working week would be known as “Zoom-free Fridays”.

She also designated 28 May as a company-wide holiday to be known as “Citi reset day” and encouraged staff to book more holidays.

“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,” Fraser wrote in the memo, which was first reported by Financial News. “It’s simply not sustainable.”

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

“We are a global company that operates across time zones, but when our work regularly spills over into nights, very early mornings and weekends, it can prevent us from recharging fully, and that isn’t good for you nor, ultimately, for Citi.”

Bankers have complained that their workloads have exploded during the pandemic. A group of junior bankers at Goldman Sachs last week accused the bank of forcing them to endure “inhumane” conditions, including regularly working 100-hour weeks.

David Solomon, Goldman’s chief executive, conceded that remote working was taking too high a toll on employees’ health.

“In this world of remote work, it feels like we have to be connected 24/7. All of us – your colleagues, your managers, our divisional leaders – we see that,” he said in a memo. “We’re here to provide support and guidance. This is not easy, and we’re working hard to make it better.”

Companies worldwide are battling to adapt working conditions during the pandemic and in a post-lockdown world. The car company Ford has told its 30,000 staff they can work from home even after the pandemic.