Workplace wellness: a deeply needed response to burnout culture or a sticking plaster solution?

Two revealing articles from The New York Times this week about the introduction of wellness practices in the workplace, one focusing on the restaurant industry, traditionally a place of huge stress and long hours. From subsidized childcare to sound baths, the perks are incredibly varied - as are the possible benefits from them.

The overall conclusion is that wellness benefits only work if the underlying causes of stress and burnout are addressed - as illustrated by a story about a wellness session run for a hospital unit which was seeing an increased error rate. The workshop organiser described running the event on increased compassion and “restoring meaning to medicine” - only to discover at the end that the unit was short seven members of staff and many employees were working double shifts to compensate. All the workplace wellness in the world wasn’t going to affect that.

In the UK, the relationship between employee and employer “feels more like ownership”

Anna Whitehouse runs the Flex Appeal campaign, aimed at enabling flexible work for all. They’ve worked with a number of companies and Anna says that the only job that can’t be done flexibly is one on an oil rig. She was first motivated to start the campaign when her employer denied her request to start the day 15 minutes later and end 15 minutes earlier, so that she could pick her daughter up from nursery. Last week, the campaign got funding from Sir Robert Macalpine, the construction company, to hire a communications agency to run the project.

How to remove to a fully remote workforce

An interview with Fuze, which enables remote working through communication tools, and Egenera, a company with a fully remote team, giving recommendations on how to go partly or fully remote. In it, they talk about the development of virtual reality to help employees engage at a “virtual watercooler”.

Why Japan's office culture helps the coronavirus spread

There's been a million coronavirus stories this week but the most interesting ones (to us at least) tell us something about the current state of the office. This one digs into resistance to remote work by Japanese employers and describes a huge culture of presenteeism, with one cold remedy company even marketing itself as the cure for when "time off is not a option".

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