The epidemic took a year, but in the end, one of the world’s largest banks admitted that telecommuting caused huge losses to employees. Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser wants to relieve Zoom fatigue and return to normal working hours. This tells you how bad things are in investment banks and large companies in general.

Citi has more than 200,000 employees worldwide, and its attempts to solve this problem should convince other major companies to rewrite their WFH manuals. This is a long overdue attempt to address the general feeling of endless workdays and constant surveillance. This is also a realization that this epidemic may not disappear soon, and the office culture will change over a long period of time-perhaps permanent.

Even if employees plead to return to the office, the headquarters in the city center is unlikely to be filled this year due to the lingering COVID threat from government management.

The pandemic and joy of WFH has had an unequal impact on different levels of the company hierarchy. According to a survey of workers released by Microsoft this week, business leaders said they are thriving, but most of their employees are struggling or barely surviving in the current environment. Four out of ten workers are considering leaving their employers.

This is why companies must quickly eradicate WFH practices, which increase the burden on workers, extend working hours, and the intrusion of offices into homes also causes stress and dissatisfaction. Exhausted employees think they want to escape from the manager, their performance will be poor, or they will stay. The lockout measures that were suddenly introduced a year ago made certain behaviors unnoticed. For example, managers send WhatsApp messages or emails to employees at all times, hoping to get a response. That will no longer be acceptable.

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In a long memo to Citi workers, Fraser proposed three measures to immediately relieve the pressure: limit Friday video calls to customers only (or Thursday as the case may be); Arrange business calls during normal working hours (closed on weekends); and encourage people to go on vacation. The company will also create a company-wide rest day-May 28-“Citi Reset Day.” Sometimes this initiative can be a little fancy, but if it is linked to real improvement in the work week, what harm is there?

As a diversified lender with a huge consumer business, Citi is different from all banks on Wall Street: Citi will also consider its retail business. But its investment bank competitors should pay attention to their plans. Just last weekend, the boss of the Goldman Sachs Group was forced to promise that Saturday would be supreme for his employees because a small group of very upset junior bankers complained about inhumane working hours. The pandemic’s work will certainly help achieve this goal.

Although prescriptive measures may not always work and require adjustment and flexibility-for example, a video call with a colleague on Friday may be completely justified-Fraser has at least somewhat reduced Kind of balance between life and work. The trick now is to ensure that these measures are implemented in a meaningful and lasting way.

Wall Street leaders hope to get everyone back to the office as soon as possible, but social isolation will continue for a period of time, which will spread the labor force in various locations, whether in satellite offices, nearby home office spaces or at home. For Citigroup, this means that most employees will work in the kitchen or bedroom up to two days a week, which is likely to become standard financial practice. Therefore, after vaccination, the boundary between people’s personal life and work life will continue to blur.

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Working from home also makes people more susceptible to bullying and harassment in the workplace, thereby providing ideal conditions for offenders to attack without noticing them. According to the 2021 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, 43% of workers in remote areas are bullied, compared to 21% of employees in non-remote areas. Half of the interviewees stated that the abuse occurred during a video call.

As Goldman Sachs (Goldman Sachs) shows, working 100 hours a week, it is best not to wait for the harassed worker to explode in a public place before solving the problem.

Copyright ©2021 Bloomberg LP

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