Citi declares 'Zoom-Free' Fridays amid pandemic work fatigue

·2-min read
Citi Chief Executive Jane Fraser urged employees to take their vacation time in response to worries about burnout during the pandemic

Citi will institute "Zoom-Free Fridays" and establish an employee day-off in May as firms seek to restore work-life balance amid the pandemic, the bank's new chief executive announced Tuesday.

Jane Fraser, who took over the top job at Citi earlier this month, said in a note to employees she wants to "reset" life at work in light of complaints of non-stop work days during the pandemic when employees labor at home and participate in non-stop digital meetings.

"After listening to colleagues around the world, it became apparent we need to combat the 'Zoom fatigue' that many of us feel," Fraser said of the Friday ban on Zoom calls.

The policy only pertains to internal Citi meetings, which should be done by phone on Friday. Staff can still Zoom with clients or at other outside meetings if needed, she added.

Calls also should not be placed "outside of what had been traditional working hours pre-pandemic and on weekends(remember those?" Fraser said.

"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."

The first woman to lead a major Wall Street bank, Fraser also directed employees to take their allotted vacation time and designated May 28 as a firm-wide holiday.

Citi's announcements come in the wake of a Goldman Sachs presentation by junior employees complaining of excessively long work days and bullying by senior colleagues that have damaged mental health.

"A year into Covid, people are understandably quite stretched, and that's why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them," Goldman said of the complaints, which garnered international attention after the powerpoint was published on social media.

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