HSBC pilots ‘Zoom-free’ Friday to tackle WFH fatigue

HSBC is trialling Zoom-free Friday afternoons for some of its staff in an attempt to tackle working from home fatigue and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Industry insiders have said that HSBC’s UK bank is piloting the move as part of a task force looking at the future of work for employees in its commercial banking unit, which covers current accounts, loans, mortgages and credit cards.

If the initiative goes ahead, it would mirror moves already made by various Wall Street firms to help counter the blurring of lines between home and work as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Earlier this year, Citigroup banned Zoom meetings on Fridays after its chief executive Jane Fraser said it had become “apparent we need to combat the ‘Zoom fatigue’ that many of us feel”. She also announced a company-wide holiday on May 28 to avoid the risk of burnout during the pandemic.

A decision is expected to be made in the coming weeks and could see HSBC join the growing group of UK companies to introduce “meeting amnesties” to tackle burnout, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

Tesco also told office staff earlier this year that they can book “thinking time” every week where no meetings can be scheduled. Similarly, Channel 4 introduced daily one-and-a-half-hour lunch breaks alongside meeting-free Fridays.

Last week, KPMG said that staff could take 2.5 hours off during any point of the week.

However, if HSBC’s UK bank introduces a policy of meeting-free Friday afternoons then it will likely lead to increased pressure on HSBC’s investment banking arm, which is heavily dependent on meetings.

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