This week’s trends from the world of work focus on the benefits of working from the office, why it’s time to rethink work schedules, and why mental health of finance workers has deteriorated due to COVID-19.

#1. Death of the office may be exaggerated despite boom in remote working

Earlier this week, the technology firm Fujitsu announced it would halve its office space in Japan as it adapts to the “new normal” of the coronavirus pandemic. Under this new plan, employees will “begin to primarily work on a remote basis,” but they will have the option to choose whether they want to work from home or the office. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies such as Twitter and Facebook have previously taken similar measures. In contrast, companies such as Microsoft and Google have emphasised the benefits of working collectively in an office space. According to the Financial Times, one such benefit is that humans working together are more creative. While it is true that in the age of AI-driven technology many of our tasks can be substituted, those that cannot require human interaction, oftentimes in person. This will increasingly become a challenge if all employees work remotely.

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#2. Is it time to rethink work schedules?

One of the significant changes ushered in by COVID-19 is rethinking employee schedules. The traditional 9-5 workday is no longer the gold standard for many of us. But what is the effect of this change on workers? The Harvard Business Review has conducted a review of 153 academic articles examining how working a nonstandard schedule affects employee attitudes, behaviour, physical and psychological health, as well as their personal and family life. Among its conclusions, we find that companies should do more to tailor-make work schedules to the needs and personalities of their employees. The one-size-fits-all approach is outdated. Read more here.

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#3. Job sharing CEOs mark a huge opportunity for leadership & true part time work

One of Australia’s leading public-interest legal organisations, Environmental Justice Australia, has appointed two women to share the organisation’s CEO position. This unique CEO arrangement means that both Nicola Rivers and Elizabeth McKinnon will be working across all aspects of the job, but each working part-time. While co-CEOs have become increasingly common for startups, it is much more unusual to see joint appointments occurring within more established organisations. Nicola and Elizabeth applied as a team and together they bring a combined 32 years of experience to their role – “something that may have been a little more challenging to find in the appointment of one person”, writes Women’s Agenda.

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#4. Mental health of finance workers seriously harmed by lockdown

According to a survey, more than eight in ten London-based banking and finance professionals (86%) say COVID-19 lockdown has affected their mental health. 52% of those surveyed said they were less productive, and nearly four in ten say they find it difficult to concentrate outside the office. While a third of them feel they were not supported by the employer, 53% said their employer was doing enough to support their wellbeing. Read more on the findings here.

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#5. OECD report: COVID-19 is causing activity to collapse and unemployment to soar

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed the OECD economies to a crawl, resulting in unprecedented job losses. Compared to the last major economic crisis in 2008, it appears that up to 10 times fewer hours were worked this time around. The OECD predicts that unemployment will reach 10% by the end of 2020 (up from 5.3% at year-end 2019). A jobs recovery is not expected until after 2021. In terms of joblessness, some countries have done better than others, particularly those that have enacted job retention programmes. Read the full report here.


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