Citi sets Zoom-free Fridays norm, will others follow suit?

Citi is known for setting new standards in the banking and financial market. Now the investment and banking major has set a new norm of future work in its organisation. Citi has decided to end the use of Zoom video calls on Fridays for its internal meetings.

The move is may not be a major one. But certainly, it is addressing the growing stress and fatigue among remote workforce globally. It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 paralysed the world, forcing companies to operate remotely.

But this new norm has blurred the lines between work and home. For the employees, It has resulted in a high level of mental stress and physical weariness. Also, it is constantly intruding personal lives and privacy of employees working remotely.

With the Zoom-free Fridays initiative, Citi has taken a key step to bring a positive change to employees’ mental and physical health. Globally, Citi has a total strength of around 204,000 employees.

“First, we are launching Zoom-Free Fridays and are designating Fridays as a day free of video calls—at least internally. 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.” Citi CEO Jane Fraser wrote in a blog post last week.

While meetings will client and regulators will continue to happen via Zoom. “For meetings occurring on Fridays (or an equivalent day in the Middle East) should happen as audio-only calls,” Fraser wrote in the blog post.

The pandemic has forced organisations and businesses to push their employees to put in long work hours including the weekends. A portion of such long work hours is mostly being used by limitless schedule video-conference calls at odd hours. And Citi CEO has tried to address that issue of setting healthy work boundaries as well in his blog.

“Please try to limit scheduling calls outside of what had been traditional working hours pre-pandemic and on weekends (remember those?),” Fraser asked his colleagues and employees.

“We are of course 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,” Fraser pointed out in his blog.

Citi CEO also asked employees to take their vacations. The CEO has announced a holiday on Friday, May 28 across the organisation, which is being called a Citi Reset Day. “I believe it greatly benefits our firm if we make these adjustments. We welcome ideas on what else we can do to help us manage the strain,” Fraser stated.

Citi Group runs an additional support program Be Well for employees. Besides, it has a medical program as well. Fraser has asked the employees to use those programs.

“And please…speak up and talk to your manager if you need more time for a reset. It’s not a sign of weakness; we are all feeling the weariness,” Fraser added.

Interestingly, what Citi CEO shared in his blog post reflects today’s reality. Most employees working remotely around the world have experienced this situation during 2020 and it even continues this year.

And it’s high time that organisations and businesses be more concerned about their employees’ health and other issues. Companies need to pay attention to their employees’ well-being – that’s critical. Also needs to address other issues that have evolved due to remote working in the wake of the pandemic.

The question still remains. How many companies local or global are willing to follow Citi Group’s Zoom-free Fridays norm in their organisations.

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