Wall Street's biggest WFH advocate is bringing underperforming staff back into the office

When Jane Fraser became CEO of Citigroup nearly two years ago, in the middle of the pandemic, she established the kind of flexible hybrid work culture that's mostly unheard of among elite Wall Street…

Wall Street's biggest WFH advocate is bringing underperforming staff back into the office

Jane Fraser, who became the CEO of Citigroup in the middle pandemic nearly two years ago established a flexible hybrid work culture that is almost unheard-of among Wall Street's elite bankers.

Citi's experiment shows that not all workers are suited to working remotely, despite Fraser's belief. She said that the less productive workers are called into the office to receive coaching.

She said this during a panel hosted by Bloomberg News at the World Economic Forum held in Davos Switzerland on Tuesday.

She added that 'apprenticeships are really important', recalling the 'eccentric' and 'wonderful' mentors she had as a young banking professional.

Fraser stated that he wanted people to collaborate, and they did. Fraser said that we do not have to return to the 1980s model, which epitomized Wall Street.

Citi spokesperson confirmed that Fraser's remarks do not indicate any formal changes to the bank’s hybrid work policies.

Fraser became the world's first female CEO of a major Wall Street Bank when she assumed the Citi CEO position in March 2021. Burnout was evident in all areas of the business world a year after the pandemic began.

Fraser, as part of her mission to make Citi the bank "with a heart," saw an opportunity to embrace a hybrid schedule that would allow staff flexibility. The blurring lines between work and home, and the relentlessness and pandemic nature of workdays have taken their toll on us. In a memo sent to Citi's 200,000 employees worldwide, she said: 'It's not sustainable.

She said that most Citi roles would be hybrids, with up to two days at home and three at the office. She implemented a 'Zoom free Friday' and encouraged staff to avoid scheduling appointments outside of traditional working hours.

This decision was a strategic one, both to respond to the human tragedy that is the pandemic as well as to give the bank a competitive edge in the fierce competition for talent on Wall Street. She said that the bet paid off in the end, helping the bank to 'attract and retain talent'.

Fraser says that Citi must strike a balance in the future between allowing workers to be flexible and collaborating face-to-face.

She said, 'I believe we are in for a world with a pretty tight labor market.' We are not seeing the return of people who left the workforce as many times as we had expected.