While in most instances, banks and businesses are happy to see a return to pre-pandemic practises as much as possible, CitiGroup have announced they will be maintaining the option for employees to work at home, at least part-time. This was announced in a virtual press briefing on June 30th by Manolo Falco, the Global Co-Head of Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory at CitiGroup.
This helps solidify what was suggested by the Chief Executive Officer, Jane Fraser, in March, that most of the jobs offered will be hybrids. Workers will be offered some days in the office and some at home. It’s a significant difference to the hardline approach adopted by many of their rivals.
While some European lenders, including UBS, have suggested that the flexible working which staff have enjoyed during the pandemic may be maintained, others have taken a hardline stance. In fact, during the announcement, Falco even brought up both Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co as examples of rivals taking the opposite approach.
In stark contrast to Falco’s announcement, David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, has been vocal in his disapproval. He called working from home an “aberration”, despite the organisation generating nearly $18 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has also expressed concerns, saying in May that he believes flexible working doesn’t work for young people. However, they do also appear to be considering flexible working to some degree despite the concerns of their CEO. In fact they suggested in April that 10% of the company, around 25,000 employees, would be offered work at home positions.
Despite this, staff were told to report to their desks by 6th July. Goldman Sachs has made similar demands of their employees.
CitiGroup Move Has Backing of Public Opinion
CitiGroup hopes that the contrast between these approaches, even against less restrictive competitors like Bank of America Corp who are expecting returns for vaccinated staff in September, will help their competitiveness. It will give them the edge in both maintaining current staff and hiring new talent.
They may have a point, too. According to multiple polls and studies, the idea of maintaining some kind of flexible working remains very popular. A study of 25,000 from IBM found evidence that demand for these options remains overwhelming, with 54 percent of employees preferring to primarily work remotely and 75 percent saying they would like to continue working from home in at least a partial capacity. Other polls have also suggested a similar level of enthusiasm for the idea.
That said, most people could already tell you that there’s a huge demand for more remote working without looking at any statistics. It’s all over social media, it’s being discussed over Zoom meetings, and it’s big enough for some of the most successful CEOs in the world to be publicly commenting, either in agreement or frustration. There can be little doubt then that many employees of CitiGroup will heave a sigh of relief at this announcement.