Bumble closes to give ‘burnt-out’ staff a week’s break

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd recently oversaw Bumble’s debut on the stock market

Bumble, the dating app where women are in charge of making the first move, has temporarily closed all of its offices this week to combat workplace stress.

Its 700 staff worldwide have been told to switch off and focus on themselves.

One senior executive revealed on Twitter that founder Whitney Wolfe Herd had made the move “having correctly intuited our collective burnout”.

Bumble has had a busier year than most firms, with a stock market debut, and rapid growth in user numbers.

The decision was praised by its head of editorial content, Clare O’Connor, as the company taking “a much-needed break”.

The pandemic has been busy for the firm as lockdown boredom set in and the swiping to find a match picked up in popularity.

The number of paid users across Bumble and Badoo, which Bumble also owns, spiked by 30% in the three months to 31 March, compared with the same period last year, according to its most recent set of results.

And Ms Wolfe Herd also became the youngest woman, at 31, to take a company public in the US when she oversaw Bumble’s stock market debut in February.

She rang the Nasdaq bell with her 18-month-old baby son on her hip and in her speech she said she wanted to make the internet “a kinder, more accountable place”.

Workers in other industries have complained about working long hours and the effect on their well-being.

Earlier this year, a group of younger bankers at Goldman Sachs warned they would be forced to quit unless conditions improved. They said they were working an average of 95 hours a week and slept five hours a night.

A spokeswoman for the investment bank said at the time: “A year into Covid, people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them.”

Wider debate

Bumble made its announcement after several tech companies have unveiled their plans for remote working as the economy reopens.

Twitter has said that it expects a majority of its staff to spend some time working remotely and some time in the office. That’s despite its boss Jack Dorsey initially saying that employees could work from home “forever”.

And Google rejigged its timetable for bringing people back to the workplace. As of 1 September, employees wishing to work from home for more than 14 days a year would have to apply to do so.

But Apple employees have launched a campaign pushing back against boss Tim Cook’s plans for a widespread return to the office, according to media reports earlier in June.

It followed an all-staff memo in which the Apple chief executive said workers should be in the office at least three days a week by September.

Apple’s policy has “already forced some of our colleagues to quit”, an internal letter seen by tech publication The Verge.

“Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our wellbeing, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple,” the letter said.

It also accuses executives of a “disconnect” with employees on the topic of remote or flexible working.

Other companies, such as accountancy firm KPMG, have introduced new measures to combat the fatigue some workers might feel after more than a year of working in a less-than-ideal home set-up.

Voice-only meetings, for example, are now required on Fridays to reduce the need for video calls. It is also discouraging early morning meetings to give staff more time to prepare for their working day.

It is in stark contrast to comments made by KPMG’s UK chairman, Bill Michael, in February when he told colleagues to “stop moaning” during a virtual meeting discussing the pandemic and possible cuts to their pay, bonuses and pensions.

According to the Financial Times, Mr Michael also told employees to stop “playing the victim card”. Mr Michael has since apologised and resigned.

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