Monday 10 May 2021 3:07 pm

HSBC to trial 'Zoom-free Fridays' to combat fatigue

HSBC is planning Zoom-free Fridays for some of its employees in a bid to tackle pandemic fatigue, following in the footsteps of other leading banks. 

Companies have been forced to reconsider working practices during the pandemic as the lines between home and work have been blurred as a result of lockdowns. 

A spokesperson confirmed it was testing the idea as part of a wider look at the future of work and colleague wellbeing, as first reported by the Telegraph. It will apply to employees in HSBC’s commercial banking unit.

Citigroup’s new chief executive Jane Fraser has already brought in Zoom-free Fridays and has scheduled a company-wide holiday at the end of this month, citing “the need for a reset”. 

“I know, from your feedback and my own experience, the blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being,” she wrote in a memo seen by Financial News.  “It’s simply not sustainable.”

HSBC’s decision to pilot Zoom-free Fridays comes amid a swathe of initiatives taken by the bank  to tackle burnout. One employee, Jonathan Frostick, recently took to social media to highlight the issue of work-life balance. 

The regulatory programme manager suffered a heart attack and said he was reevaluating his approach to work: “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore.” 

HSBC has also taken steps to lighten the load on its junior investment bankers after a gruelling year of dealmaking. It is hiring more junior bankers to share the workload and hiking current employees’ pay in a bid to tackle burnout. 

HSBC’s pilot coincides with a more permanent shift to remote working as it plans to shrink office space by 40 per cent. It has scrapped the entire executive floor at its Canary Wharf headquarters, which will be used for client meeting rooms and collaborative spaces, forcing top executives to hot desk.