Citigroup Embraces Both Hybrid Work and the Centrality of the Office

Citigroup recently stepped out in favor of hybrid work – a move that sets it apart from many financial institutions.

An announcement from newly minted Chief Executive Jane Fraser went out to the company's 210,000 global employees describing the company's new policy, although many of the details are yet to be finalized.

“The pandemic has stretched our capacity for innovative thinking, for solving problems. It has opened doors to new ways of working and shown that we are able to adapt to and even flourish amid adversity," Fraser said.

Three flavors of work

Citi will support three different models of work: Hybrid, Resident and Remote.

  • Hybrid - this will be the majority of roles globally, according to Fraser. Hybrid workers will go to the office three days a week and be remote the other two. “This is not just a scheduling exercise; we will be thoughtful about when we ask colleagues to be in the office together,” she wrote.
  • Resident applies to roles that cannot be performed offsite, such as branch-based or data-center jobs.
  • Remote roles will allow colleagues to perform their functions from outside a Citi location. Apart from roles that were remote before the pandemic, such as those supporting our contact centers, new Remote roles will be somewhat rare.

But first a work reset

Prior to reopening, Fraser is hitting the "reset" button. Citi is enacting three measures meant to  address "the blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being."

  • Zoom-Free Fridays - employees are being discouraged from holding internal zoom meetings.
  • Limiting calls outside of traditional work hours - undoubtedly a challenge for a company that stretches across all time zones.
  • Taking vacation time, including “Citi Reset Day” on Friday, May 28 - “so you can plan a day where we are all off and your emails and phones are quiet.”

Hybrid-ish?

Citi is embracing hybrid work, but at the same time enshrining the central role of the office, for reasons that Fraser explained in her message to employees: “While the pandemic has shown us how versatile our colleagues can be, for many of our roles, we strongly believe there are several material advantages to being physically together.” She goes on to identify the principal reasons for maintaining office-centricity.

  • Belonging - “We want our people to feel an attachment to our firm, a sense of pride about serving our clients and a duty to protect the financial system.”
  • Collaboration - “Collaboration is much more dynamic when you can pop over to the next desk or brainstorm in a room together, bouncing ideas and feeding off each other.”
  • Apprenticeship and Learning - “Banking is an apprenticeship business and this can happen over Zoom, but only up to a point.”
  • Competitiveness and Performance - “Being together drives collaboration, coordination and helps break down silos. These are attributes we need to embrace to improve our competitiveness and performance.”

Work of the future different than the past

Citigroup's new policies seem to echo thinking that was developed in collaboration with Accenture before Fraser's tenure, which began in March 2021. In a 2020  think piece titled "Workforce and the workplace: from surviving to thriving," Steve Donovan, Citi's Latin America Treasury and Trade Solutions Head, was quoted as saying, "For Citi, preserving our culture, our team identity and relationships is very important. The working practices of the future will differ significantly from those of the past, so we need to ensure that our future working models enable us to nurture a common spirit, share ideas and ensure that our people have the tools and skills they need to be effective in their roles."

Conclusion

It's hard to imagine the pressure that Fraser must be under. She's the first woman CEO of a major global financial institution, in an industry that is generally loathe to change. Thus, it's impressive to see her advocate for a more humanized workplace. 

Nothing is more human than trial and error. No doubt, as Citi employees begin to test drive their new hybrid workplace,  new workplace patterns will develop and the company will need to make adjustments to the policy. For instance, how will the company avoid the Tuesday-through-Thursday office rush that is being observed in Australia, where offices have been open for months? This is where data becomes enormously helpful. By knowing where and when employees are booking space, whether it's company-owned space or meeting rooms at coworking spaces, the company can have a better handle on the day-to-day impact and implications of its hybrid work program.

The good news is that even companies without Citgroup's resources can rollout and manage their hybrid work program with complete visibility into employee workspace usage and any related costs.

LiquidSpace offers the only enterprise-grade platform for managing hybrid and distributed workplace strategies in one place. LiquidSpace Enterprise allows employees to book both corporate and approved third-party workspaces with an easy-to-use mobile interface.

With LiquidSpace Enterprise, you can gather critical data and actionable insights – so you can to understand employee adoption and usage patterns, spend overview, and ESG impact.

Learn more and request a demo at http://liquidspace.com/enterprise.

Topics: Industry Insights, WFA Management, LiquidSpace Enterprise

Topics: Industry Insights, WFA Management

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