To Help Work-Life Balance, Citi CEO Mandates “Zoom-Free Fridays”

In an attempt to help restore a work-life balance in this new work-from-home environment, Citibank’s CEO Jane Fraser sent a note to employees promising a new model that includes Zoom-free Fridays.

Fraser, who replaced Michael Corbat as CEO earlier this year, told employees that there should be no video calls on Fridays. She also declared May 28th a Citi-Reset Day giving employees an extra vacation day during Memorial Day weekend. In addition, she encouraged vacations.

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Fraser’s memo also encouraged employees to not schedule calls and meetings outside of normal working hours. “I know, from your feedback and my own experience, the burring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being. It’s simply not sustainable.”

It’s a smart move to get ahead of the curve and help employees manage the blurred lines between work and home – because, one thing is increasingly certain; the work from home model, or the hybrid model in which employees work half from home and half in office, is a model that will stay.

Work From Home: The Model of the Future

Ford Motor recently told 30,000 employees that when the pandemic is over, they can continue to work from home. Deutsche Bank has also embraced a flexible model, along with many other companies.

In fact, in a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday, 250 Ceos and business leaders in the state warned that employees have already relocated to other areas and only 10% of their workforces are working in offices. The letter urged Cuomo to not enact the biggest tax hike in history because then people might never return.

Taxes or no taxes, getting people back into an actual office will prove harder to do. The pandemic has increased productivity for many since it has limited employee’s commute times. The challenge however, is that when the office is always there…as in, quite literally, there in your own home, setting work-life boundaries aren’t easy.

Also, it’s important to note that not every job can be done from home. Consider teachers for example. A six year old child isn’t going to be able to read over zoom. So, while this approach may work in some industries and for some jobs, it’s not for all.

Getting Back To Our Roots

That said, in some ways what America is experiencing with this new work-from-home reality, is actually a return to our roots. In many ways, it’s similar to what our ancestors did years ago. After all, in the old days people worked off their land, or lived above their shop, or had a dental or legal practice within their home. In other words, we’ve managed this before as a society and I have a good feeling, we’ll figure it out again.

Good for Fraser at Citi for helping to lead the way.

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