Over the past two years, Citi has found itself at both ends of the debate over post-COVID workplace returns. It became the first major U.S.-based Wall Street bank, in March 2021, to commit to a long-term hybrid working model.
It also took a turn early last year as arguably the Wall Street lender with the strictest office-rerun policy, saying it would fire office workers who failed to comply with a deadline to prove they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 or request an exemption. Months earlier, Citi said it would require all of its U.S. workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition to remain employed at the company.
Now, workers at the bank can expect to go to the office more often if their productivity slips, Citi CEO Jane Fraser told Bloomberg on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“You can see how productive someone is or isn’t, and if they’re not being productive, we bring them back to the office, or back to the site, and we give them the coaching they need until they bring the productivity back up again,” Fraser told the wire service.
In a November interview with Fortune magazine, Fraser recounted the bank’s decision to balance office days and remote flexibility. Office days help with collaboration and apprenticeship, Fraser said. But other banks’ insistence on office attendance five days a week felt “a bit 1980s,” she said.
“Why do we need to have our junior bankers … in the office late at night if they’re working on a deal?” she told Fortune. “Once they’ve done the work collaborating together, they can do that at home. We know if they’re doing a good job or not. And if they’re not in a groove, the team is going to say, you know, ‘Get back in the office and have those conversations.’”
The remote flexibility, Fraser said, helps make Citi an “employer of choice.”
However, she said Tuesday, “We’re not seeing people coming back who had left the workforce in anything like the numbers we expected.”
“We’re going to have keep listening to our people and getting that balance right,” Fraser added. “But if you don’t listen to them, you’re in danger of having some problems.”