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By 22 May 2020 | Categories: feature articles

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Companies are not just rising to the challenge of implementing remote working in light of the pandemic. Increasingly, forward thinking tech companies are paying attention to fostering employee health and wellbeing as well.

Just one example is Cisco. The company recently announced that it was launching its “a Day for Me” initiative. The initiative sees the company close its operations today, and give employees an internal public holiday.

The company explained that that the rationale for the initiative is that in our very modern, always on lifestyles, it is easy to get lost in the busy-ness of it all - working, taking care of family, paying bills and providing for our loved ones. The company noted that it is almost second nature for people to get so submerged in this simulation that they hardly ever take a moment to reflect on themselves and their state of wellbeing. Instead, stresses and emotions get neatly tucked away, at the detriment to an individual’s wellbeing.

This, Cisco notes, unfortunately, is a bigger problem that it seems. Citing a study by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), it noted that one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance-use problems. This does not include more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

This initiative is just one of many solutions Cisco has provided to its internal team. The company also encourages mental health check-ins during meetings; mindfulness and resilience training to preserve the health of its employees as well as an Employee Assistance Programme that gives the office an opportunity to manage work-related stress and other personal challenges.

“It might feel like there are so many reasons not to take a day off. There are few places to go, people need us, and we enjoy our work. Our weeks and weekends are blurring together. Yet there is one reason to unplug: ourselves,” noted Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s Chief People Officer.

Indeed, the benefits of a periodic four day work week have been lauded in progressive countries. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardem, one of the most widely lauded leaders in the world for her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in her country, recently flouted the concept not just as a way to boost employee’s productivity, but also as a measure to revitalize New Zealand’s economy.

While it may run counter to established thought, in which working harder and longer hours has been extolled, the new normal for work quite possibly expresses the wisdom of less is more.

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