• Working unpaid hours have become a growing part of many jobs. How did we get here?
  • The new up-and-coming workplace benefit - fertility.
  • The push for greener pensions.
  • Work from home or work from the garden?
  • Facebook’s expansion in the EU.

In the world of work this week… the exploration behind the trend: have we been steadily putting in too many unpaid hours? Research shows many workers put in hours of unpaid overtime, even prior to the pandemic.

Plus, in time for International Pronouns Day this week, a guide to using pronouns in the office (and why it matters!), why hiring can take so long, the HR tech paving the way for a more human-centred workforce, and why treating companies mean won’t actually help.

We’ve got a full breakdown of all the top headlines you can’t miss this week.

#1. Working unpaid hours has become part of the job. Here’s how.

We’re working more than ever before.

It’s a statistic workers have heard time and time again. In fact, over the course of the pandemic, more than 60% of workers put in over 40 hours each week. From late-night emails to early morning calls and everything in between, workers are spending a growing number of hours on the job. But how did all of this unpaid work happen?

“Working towards 40 hours a week would be a light week for me,” Erik, a Hong Kong-based lawyer, told the BBC. “My hours depend on my clients’ needs – I don’t have the option of working fewer.”

Working unpaid hours have become a growing part of many jobs. How did we get here?
Working unpaid hours have become a growing part of many jobs. How did we get here?

Those long days at the office quickly add up for many employees, though, some of whom don’t feel as if they have the freedom or flexibility to cut back. In the U.K., prior to the pandemic, more than 5 million workers averaged an extra 7.6 hours each week -- leading to 35 billion GBP in unpaid overtime. Global stats from ADP Research Institute found that one in 10 say they work at least 20 hours a week for free.

Remote working has only intensified the problem, though unpaid overtime was part of the norm for many jobs for decades. Read more at the BBC.

#2. The up-and-coming workplace perk: fertility.

A growing number of companies are offering a new perk for their employees: fertility. From IVF to egg freezing to surrogacy, companies are trying to attract new, top recruits with these benefits. It’s part of a growing movement: with many companies struggling to find enough workers, leaders hope to entice workers with innovative perks, especially in the U.S.

It’s more than just a Covid-19-related trend. In 2014, both Apple and Facebook announced that they would help contribute up to $20,000 towards egg freezing. Other tech companies, like Salesforce and Spotify, are helping fun surrogacy for employees – and spending up to $80,000 to help.

Experts believe these types of benefits can help boost employee engagement and foster a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

“Between 2019 and 2020 we’ve seen a 500% increase in employers adding family-building benefits,” says Peter Nieves, chief commercial officer for WINFertility, a US-based fertility benefits platform that partners with employers to provide family-planning perks, told the BBC. “Some employers are offering as much as a $200,000 limit to cover the cost of family-building.”

#3. Climate change is driving the push for greener pensions.

Companies are racing to provide “greener,” or more environmentally friendly, pensions. Across the world, trillions of dollars in retirement savings schemes are threatened by climate change, the Financial Times reports. The path of global warming poses a huge risk for pension plans, and questions remain about the future value of companies – and their shares or bonds.

However, even in light of this, fewer than half of pension plans in Europe and the UK are considering the investment risk posed by climate change. Some of the UK’s largest pension providers, for example, have already pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But many of the country’s smaller pension plans will need more guidance to achieve net zero. Read more in the Financial Times.

#4. A new meaning to “working in the garden.”

Work from home has dramatically shifted the way we work, and it’s also led to a shift in the way people spend their time outside work. The pandemic has been ongoing now for more than a year and a half, and for many, flexible work now seems like the norm – and these workers are making adjustments.

Nearly 80 percent of business leaders and 70 percent of the population said people would likely never return to offices at the same rate as prior to the pandemic. That’s according to a recent YouGov poll in Britain done for the BBC.

As a result, workplaces – both at home and at the office – are dramatically changing. People who have the luxury of working from home are renovating their indoor and outdoor spaces, finding that their current set-up just won’t cut it.

For one married couple, the solution was clear: renovate the shed and turn it into an office.

“We needed separate spaces to work due to being in virtual meetings all day — we tried working at the dining room table together, and it just was not working,” Ms. Fernandes, an architect who designs community buildings, told the New York Times. “We have work-life separation between the house and the garden office. And it’s a space that both of us can use whenever required, say if we needed complete isolation for giving a presentation or concentrating on some work.”

#5. Facebook to create more than 10,000 jobs in the EU to help build “metaverse.”

More than 10,000 jobs are coming to the EU as Facebook pushes to build a virtual world for their users. The company is working on the “metaverse” as their next big phase of growth, and they’re putting their money behind it, too, investing more than $50 million. Europeans will play a big role in shaping the metaverse and developing virtual reality (VR) and artificial reality (AR).

“So today, we’re announcing a plan to create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs within the EU over the next five years,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs, said. “This investment is a vote of confidence in the strength of the European tech industry and the potential of European tech talent.”

The company is expected to invest heavily in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, and Ireland, according to the Guardian. Read the full story here.