Technology issues strain work from home efforts at big U.S. banks

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc C.N asked its non-essential workers across North America to hold off on logging into its remote access system until 1 p.m. on Thursday, as it braced for many employees to begin working from home, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The move is meant to minimize the time that Europe-based employees and U.S.-based employees are logged in at the same time to prevent the system from being overwhelmed, one of the sources said.

Citigroup, the third largest U.S. bank by assets, has about 200,000 employees worldwide, according to filings.

The New York-based bank followed peers like JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N in sending most of its workforce home until further notice this week as the coronavirus outbreak intensified in major cities across the United States.

The increase in remote working has strained technology resources at the some of the largest banks.

At Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N, teams have been asked to start conference calls at odd times like 2:20 p.m. rather than the hour or half hour to avoid clogging its teleconferencing system, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

The bank’s technology team has also been rushing to secure more laptops and increase its network bandwidth to accommodate more employees working from home.

Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Cynthia Osterman