You enter an office, pull at the door, and discover that it does not give, and nobody is there.
Employees are taking more and more time off as part of a drive for a better work environment.
The corporate ripples really began with Nike (NKE), a professional social media platform similar to LinkedIn (MSFT) and dating app Bumble (BMBL).
The activewear behemoth announced that in August 2021, it would give the 11,000-plus employees at its Oregon headquarters a week off to "power down" and "destress" from the stress caused by the covid-19 epidemic.
Matt Marrazzos, Nike's global marketing science executive, wrote to employees at the time: "In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is critical to staying sane."
Nike is on vacation right now.
A year after the company launched its second annual "Well-Being Week," both the corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., and the threeAir Manufacturing design labs with over 1,500 employees are closed for a collective paid vacation on August 15 to 19.
"We knew it would be beneficial, but I was blown away by the feedback from our teammates," Nike's Chief Human Resources Officer Monique Matheson wrote in a LinkedIn post.
"Coworkers said they could unplug really unplug, without worrying about what was happening back at the office or getting worried about the emails stacking up."
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Nike gave its retail and distribution employees a week's worth of paid vacation that they may use as they see fit to keep the shops running and online orders fulfilled, but not to complicate the differences between blue and white collar workers.
Nike has linked the shift to its commitment to prioritize mental health. In the last year, it has launched everything from a "marathon of mental health" to a podcast that discusses how exercise can be used to manage anxiety and depression.
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Despite being criticized for transacting mental health into positive PR while not actually doing anything for their employees, the collective week off was perhaps the most significant thing the company did for workers' mental health.
Set office closures have long been a common practice in many European countries. Over the month of August, not only corporate offices but even restaurants and retail shops empty out for what is culturally considered sacred vacation time.
Many corporate leaders and particularly small businesses have viewed the practice as a model that emphasizes individual choice above all else. It is possible that it would be more difficult to maintain such a shortfall in business in the long run.
In many ways, the conversations reflect some companies' resistance to remote work, despite the fact that one-fourth of white-collar jobs in the United States are expected to be fully remote by 2023.
"This is the sort of incentive that drives employees to stay," industry researcher Shep Hyken said in a response to RetailWire. "And knowing they cant completely shut the whole company down, I like the way they are compensating the distribution and retail store employees."