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TOPIC: work

Society

Now They're Diagnosing Burnout's Never-Quit Cousin: Burn-On

Feeling overworked but not yet burned out? Often the problem is “burn-on,” an under-researched phenomenon whose sufferers desperately struggle to keep up and meet their own expectations — with dangerous consequences for their health.

At first glance, Mr L seems to be a successful man with a well-rounded life: middle management, happily married, father of two. If you ask him how he is, he responds with a smile and a “Fine thanks”. But everything is not fine. When he was admitted to the psychosomatic clinic Kloster Diessen, Mr L described his emotional life as hollow and empty.

Although outwardly he is still putting on a good face, he has been privately struggling for some time. Everything that used to bring him joy and fun has become simply another chore. He can hardly remember what it feels like to enjoy his life.

For psychotherapist Professor Bert te Wildt, who heads the psychosomatic clinic in Ammersee in Bavaria, Germany, the symptoms of Patient L. make him a prime example of a new and so far under-researched syndrome, that he calls “burn-on”. Working with psychologist Timo Schiele, he has published his findings about the phenomenon in a book, Burn-On.

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Germany's 25-Hour Work Week Proposal Is An Insult To Work

Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party recently called for the introduction of a 25-hour work week, arguing that it's the only way to end "self-exploitation." What a strange understanding of work, argues one German expert in labor law.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — “In order to create a working environment that gives employees a good quality of life and self-determination, we are calling for a working week of 25 hours in the medium term," is the new stance on labor taken by Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD).

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When Your Boss Is Really An Algorithm

Hard questions amid the increasing use of software algorithms to take on managerial functions, such as hiring, firing and evaluating employees.

The 1999 cult classic film Office Space depicts Peter’s dreary life as a cubicle-dwelling software engineer. Every Friday, Peter tries to avoid his boss and the dreaded words: “I’m going to need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow.”

This scene is still popular on the internet nearly 25 years later because it captures troubling aspects of the employment relationship – the helplessness Peter feels, the fake sympathy his boss intones when issuing this directive, the never-ending demand for greater productivity.

There is no shortage of pop culture depictions of horrible bosses. There is even a film with that title. But things could be about to get worse. What is to be made of the new bosses settling into workplaces across all sectors: the algorithm managers?

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The Right To Laziness — A New French Theory To Put Work In Its Proper Place

A French politician recently made the case for the "right to laziness". In the era of the “great resignation” or "quiet quitting”, the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds. After all, history shows us that work is a very recent human passion.

-Essay-

PARIS — “The value of work” has been one of French President Emmanuel Macron and his government's priorities in recent years. Communists, too, claim that working is a source of emancipation, while the classic liberalism makes labor the core of progress. Meanwhile, the tech enthusiasts who hold the real power today also see work as the only way to save the public accounts.

Big issues are at stake here: our whole social system — from calculating pensions to paying allowances — is driven by the hunt for that next job.

In the middle of all this, Sandrine Rousseau’s dissident voice rose up. The left-leaning French economist and politician started asking for a “right to laziness.”

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Economy
Alexis Gaches

Outputs To Outcomes: Why It’s Time To Stop Measuring Productivity

Initially used to measure the link between exploited resources and final results in the industrial production process, the concept of productivity is the most widely used economic indicator. It is also sorely out-of-date.

Two hundred and fifty years after the beginning of industrialization, a new revolution is on: the digital one. If the automation of almost all production has led workers to turn to knowledge-based jobs, the concept of productivity is still anchored in management culture. But it is time to question the relevance of an evaluation of intellectual work through the prism of productivity.

Let’s take the example of a writer able to write two mediocre books in the same amount of time they would need to write one very good book. Two books means twice as much output, so a higher productivity rate. But since one good book sells better, their publisher will likely prefer quality over quantity. In this case, applying a productionist approach would be counterproductive.

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Work In Progress

Work → In Progress: The Ripples Of Ukraine War On The World Of Work

Jobs for Ukrainian refugees, too busy to quit in Hong Kong, the rise of 'asynchronous' work....and more

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the working world — still recovering from the global pandemic, no less — was dealt a sizeable blow, from ripple effects of unemployment to supply chain disruptions to office campaigns to support the victims of the war.

Of course, the most immediate impact of the war is inside Ukraine itself, which UN News estimates has lost 4.8 million jobs. The immediate impact has also been felt across the global economy, as energy embargoes and grain blockades have undermined the most basic elements of life. Meanwhile, the influx of refugees has put newfound pressure on labor markets in certain countries.

But as the war unfolds before us on our screens, business in Western countries have also felt compelled to get involved, often with spontaneous initiatives to offer help. In the UK, for example, several companies have put pressure on the government to make it easier on refugees, and have offered jobs themselves to Ukrainian refugees. Some are going even further by offering relocation and other assistance.

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Economy
Neila Beyler

Friday's The New Saturday? Four-Day Work Week Tested Around Europe

As Britain begins the world's largest trial of the four-day work week, other European nations are experimenting with the idea too. Could a permanent three-day weekend be in reach for workers elsewhere?

PARIS - Since remote work has become part of normal life in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are now exploring other options to reduce the amount of time that employees spend in the office. One popular but controversial solution is the four-day work week. Europe is, not surprisingly, the first place to begin testing the feasibility of employees working one fewer day a week without sacrificing any of their pay.

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Society
Qadri Inzamam and Haziq Qadri

The Digital Tracking Of India's Sanitation Workers Is An Extra Dirty Deal

Lower-caste cleaners must wear GPS-enabled smartwatches, raising questions about their privacy and data protection.

Munesh sits by the roadside near a crowded market in Chandigarh, a city in India’s north, on a January day. She is flanked by several other women, all of them sweepers hired by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. She shows the smartwatch she is wearing and says, “See, I didn't even touch it, but the camera has turned on."

Munesh, who estimates she is in her 40s and, like many Indians, goes by just one name, is one of around 4,000 such sanitation workers. The corporation makes it mandatory for them to wear smartwatches — called Human Efficiency Tracking Systems — fitted with GPS trackers. Each one has a microphone, a SIM embedded for calling workers, and a camera, so that the workers can send photos to their supervisors as proof of attendance.

In Chandigarh, this project is run by Imtac India, an IT services company, at a cost of an estimated $278,000 per year. Meanwhile, sanitation workers say that the government has not invested in personal protective gear throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and that they have long worked without medical care and other vital social services.

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Living Abroad

Top Cities For Your Career Abroad

European cities dominate both the top and the bottom of the Urban Work Life Index, according to findings in the Expat Insider survey.

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Global expat community InterNations conducts one of the biggest annual surveys of life abroad, Expat Insider. In 2021, over 12,000 expats representing 174 nationalities participated. Covering key areas such as job satisfaction, work-life balance, career prospects and more, the findings of the Urban Work Life Index offer unique insights into working life abroad.

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Work In Progress
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: Why 'Financial Wellness' Is Not Just About A Raise

The workplace wellness trend now includes the very practical questions about how, when and how much we get paid, and is shaping up to be the next step in blurring the lines between personal and professional that were once so neatly divided.

We’re approaching the end of Q1 of 2022 and the “wellness” trend that’s usually reserved for millennials’ yoga mats has officially made its way into the professional world. After two years of realizing that job setups don’t always favor employees’ health, the call for sweeping workplace changes — ranging from more medical access to an HR focus on mental well-being — is in full swing.

But wouldn't you know: the latest professional self-care trend carries a notably practical air: financial wellness.

Bank of America’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Report mentioned “financial wellness” 43 times, which it defined as “the type of support employers are offering to address financial needs.” But is making money not the point of work? It seems this new rebranding of how work relates to cash is indicative of how differently we now view employment.

The financial wellness movement doesn’t want companies to just fairly compensate employees but instead to teach them how to manage their salaries, be it saving for retirement, navigating debt or budgeting.

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Future
Nathalie Villard

The French Company Teaching The World To Code

With 43 campuses in 27 countries, Le Wagon has become the world's leading network for intensive coding education, revolutionizing how coding is taught.

It’s a December morning at a warehouse hidden in a dead end street in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. The first to arrive are the gardeners because as much as the building has kept its industrial aspect, dozens of plants occupy the space flooded with light by a gigantic glass roof. "Greenhouse effect guaranteed," says one of the gardeners, watering can in hand. And then the students arrive to sit around large wooden tables.

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Economy
Niccolo Zancan

Who Wants To Work For The Post Office? Snapshot Of Italy's Uncertain Future

Why are no locals in the northern Italian city of Verona applying for the once prized permanent job posting? The answer is found elsewhere.

Forget the myth of permanent employment, the secure job for life. In Verona, they are looking for postal workers, but can't find them. They can't find them in Bolzano or Turin either. There is a labor shortage in the post offices of Italy's northeast, and a shortage in the northwest.

The letter carrier's position has never been in such high demand as it is today. To tell the truth: few actual letters though many more packages to deliver. Postal workers are offered a one-year fixed-term contract at 1,100 euros per month, before having the opportunity to move up the ranks and secure a job for life within two to three years. A national contract, annual leave, health insurance and workers rights. Yet the last call for applications in Verona was almost completely empty.

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