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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

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

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.

But most of all, the war (like the pandemic) is another reminder that the future of work is bound to ever more be a global thing, no matter how local your market or employer may be. This edition of Work → In Progress also zooms in on the emergence of digital nomad visas, asynchronous work schedules and other notable stories from the world of work.


Mastering the Russian language may give children a leg up on the job market, reports German daily Die Welt. Once prominent in Germany’s eastern federal states, Russian language studies for schoolchildren in Germany have been declining for decades — the number of German students studying Russian was down 83% in 2020/2021 school year compared to 1992/1993 — and replaced by romance languages. With the war against Ukraine, teaching Russian is at a turning point, says Anka Bergmann, 1st Chairwoman of the Association for Russian and Multilingualism and Professor for Russian Didactics at the Institute for Slavic Studies and Hungarian Studies in Berlin, to Die Welt. But, there is a need for Russian lessons with new perspectives, not exclusively designed for imperial Russia.


Select British businesses, mostly large firms, have mobilized to give jobs to refugees fleeing from the war that broke out in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. But some businesses feel that the UK isn’t handing out visas for the refugees fast enough, London business media Raconteur reports. As a result, companies are putting pressure on the British government to make it easier to give jobs to refugees, with businesses (some who have already hired refugees themselves) even encouraging recruiters and other companies to not only offer jobs, but other assistance and support to the refugees.


The New Yorkerreports that some Americans take so many photos with their cell phones that they hire a personal photo organizer to sort, organize and delete the pictures for them.


Digital nomads, people who work remotely while globetrotting in a “nomadic” fashion, may have a new location to stream from on the beaches of Bali. Indonesia recently announced plans to attract high-spending visitors by developing a “digital nomad” visa. Yet Bali already has its fair share of digital nomads, operating in what Fortune calls “a legal gray area at best,” with some using tourist visas or temporary work permits. The new visa would be valid for five years and wouldn’t tax income from outside the country — and would streamline what some nomads are already getting away with.


French weekly business magazine Challenges has a related story, touching on not only the "where" but also the "when" questions about work. So-called “asynchronous work schedules” allow employees to work on their own time (and maybe from Bali!) and prioritize results over the hours clocked. While these models have always been around, many companies embraced asynchronous work when the pandemic forced millions to work from home. It requires a great deal of communication, but it also means that workers can prioritize anything from picking up the kids from school to surfing over emails and meetings — without sacrificing productivity.


In a survey conducted by the Cemka Institute for INRS, occupational physicians estimate that 7% of employees in France are struggling with cannabis use, up 2% compared to 2009.


Much of the West has been feeling the effects of the Great Resignation, the phenomenon where employees quit their jobs en masse in 2021 in the height of the pandemic. But it hasn’t been the same around the world. Readers of the South China Morning Post recently wrote in to discuss that despite Hong Kong’s hectic work culture, it is unlikely the city will experience a “Great Resignation” anytime soon. Their reasoning? Employees are too busy to resign because they're using their time to question the meaning of life … and work some more. Without economic security, workers in Hong Kong cannot afford to abandon work to pursue passion projects like others in the West.


Inclusion policies to encourage LGBTQ+ to feel comfortable in the workplace has stalled in France for two years in what Les Echos calls the Great Stagnation, as certain companies are said to reflect “LGBTphobe” atmospheres. Although many companies claim to promote diversity, 83% of people surveyed say they chose to stay “invisible,” or to not “come out” in the workplace, to preserve career development. The survey, conducted by l’Autre Cercle, a leading French actor for workplace LGBTQ+ inclusion, also reported an increase over the last two years in LGBTQ+ employees who say they have been the victim of at least one attack within their work environment.


As employers explore options to reduce the hours workers have to spend in the office in the wake of the pandemic, and the resulting rise of remote work, many European countries are testing out the four-day work week. The idea is that the shorter work week will reduce burnout without sacrificing productivity and pay. Some have already been testing the idea, including Iceland which has begun a four-year study on reduced workplace hours in 2015. In June, the UK jumped on the bandwagon, with over 3,000 “guinea pigs” working 80% of their usual hours. From Spanish daily newspaper El País, in Spain, where fewer than 24 companies have reported switching to a four-day work week, the Ministry of Industry wants 150 companies to test out the reduced work week trend without reducing hours. France, Belgium, and Lithuania are among other countries that have decided to test the benefits of the four-day work week and strike the right work-life balance, according to Belgium's RTBF public broadcaster.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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