'Video calls are demoralising': Citigroup launches 'Zoom-Free Friday'

26 March 2021, 12:02

By Fiona Jones

'Zoom-Free Fridays' are becoming the new normal in bank Citigroup, in an attempt to save employees from the "relentlessness" of online meetings while working remotely.

Jane Fraser, Citi’s new chief executive, said that after speaking to colleagues worldwide, many were suffering from 'Zoom fatigue.'

She told staff, "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.”

Reed Recruitment Group chair James Reed told LBC he recognised this fatigue himself: "You can be booked in for seven or eight hours of video calls and that can be exhausting and pretty demoralising. By the end of the day, you're shattered."

Before the pandemic, Mr Reed said he had never used Zoom before and always conducted his business in person.

Mr Reed said, "We've all become talking heads... and I'm really looking forward to seeing people again in person. As soon as it's possible to go back safely to work and we're allowed to, I will be doing that.

"I know that many many people, especially young people, are looking forward to that greatly because there's a sense of isolation even though you are seeing each other over these calls."

He pointed out that video meetings can sometimes be "much more efficient" if you have a clear agenda and know exactly what you want to go through.

"For other types of conversation it is very stilted."