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        Zoom-free Fridays introduced by Citigroup CEO

        Zoom-free Fridays introduced by Citigroup CEO

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          Citigroup’s new CEO cites the ‘relentlessness of the pandemic workday’ as ‘simply not sustainable.’

          Jane Fraser, the new CEO of international investment bank Citigroup has reportedly put a stop to video calls on Fridays in an attempt to ease pressure on staff, telling them that going forward the last day of the working week will be known as ‘Zoom-free Fridays.’

          According to a staff memo shared by Financial News, Fraser (pictured) informed staff; “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. 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.

          “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.”

          It has since been reported by CNBC that Zoom meetings with clients and regulators will still take place on Fridays, but internal meetings will be conducted over the phone to give staff a break from video conferencing.

          In addition to this, it was also reported that Fraser has designated Friday May 28 as a company-wide holiday dubbed ‘Citi Reset Day’ and has encouraged workers to take more time off.

          Workers everywhere are naturally reluctant to use valuable holiday entitlement just to stay at home, but with the average remote worker adding a week’s worth of extra work time every month it is even more important to take time out.

          Digital communication and video conferencing has been a lifeline to businesses since the start of the pandemic, but many people are experiencing severe ‘Zoom fatigue’, described by the Psychiatric Times as burnout associated with the overuse of virtual communication platforms.

          According to data from recruitment specialists Robert Half, 44 percent of workers have experienced Zoom fatigue in the last year, with 15 percent finding virtual meetings to be exhausting and inefficient, preferring to communicate via phone or email.

          HR teams globally are recognising the need to combat ‘Zoom fatigue’ in order to maintain high levels of productivity and employee engagement, as well as to prevent burnout.

          Financial software firm Intelliflo last year launched an initiative they called ‘Walkie Talkies’. Their CEO, Nick Eatock, told WIRED: “People can go for a walk when dialling in to some meetings where laptops aren’t required.

          “It seems to work well to get fresh air and a change of scenery,” he continued.

          Data from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a 13 percent increase in the number of meetings. It too advocates for staff to have one meeting-free day per week.

          With the easing of lockdown regulations in the UK, businesses will be re-evaluating their workspace needs and looking at how they can reunite their teams for face-to-face collaboration. Zoom has certainly served its purpose and will be with us for a long time yet, but for many of us, the days when we can get back in to the office and hold meetings in person, can’t come soon enough.


          Images courtesy of Fizkes via iStock & Citibank


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