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Citigroup says that employees can work remotely for the last 2 weeks of the year

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Citigroup Inc. told most employees they can work from anywhere for the final two weeks of the year, as Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser bucks a trend among rivals to get office workers back to their desks full time.

The move applies to those in hybrid roles, or those who already work remotely a couple of days a week, and workers were told they must stay in their country of employment to take advantage of the perk, according to people familiar with the matter. The bank gave staff a similar option in August.

A spokeswoman for New York-based Citigroup confirmed the move. 

Fraser has offered most staffers the ability to work remotely at least part of the time on a permanent basis, with most Citigroup employees expected to be in the office three days a week. The CEO has said Wall Street’s insistence on full-time office attendance feels dated, arguing in an interview with Fortune last month that workers will “vote with their feet” on such policies. 

“There is a lot of value that you get from being together and some more of the spontaneity from that and the collaboration, the apprenticeship,” Fraser said at the time. Still, she said, “our junior bankers, they don’t have to be in the office late at night if they’re working on a deal. 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.”

Fraser said most traders tend to work from the office five days a week, though they have the necessary technology to work from home if they need to attend a child’s school play or run home at lunchtime to see their family. Meanwhile call-center staffers are spending more of their days at home, she said. 

“They’ll be coming in if they need training,” Fraser said. “If they’re a poor performer, and they need some coaching from their manager,” they can do that and then go back to working from home again, she said.

Remote Work Experiment

Office occupancy levels across the New York metro area reached their highest post-pandemic levels in recent weeks and are nearing 50%, according to card-swipe data from Kastle Systems. 

Still, working parents across the country have increasingly lamented juggling return-to-office requirements with rising levels of influenza, Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A busy holiday travel season is expected to complicate that picture even more. 

“Working from home in knowledge jobs like banking is new, so everyone is learning from this experiment,” said Lynda Gratton, a management professor at London Business School and author of Redesigning Work. “Seeing it as an event, just for summer or Christmas, makes good sense. It creates discretionary time during a period when people really value it, and gives leaders a chance to try out the impact in a low-risk way.”

–With assistance from Matthew Boyle.

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