Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Save Barneys

Barneys, long representing the epitome of New York cool, has been acquired by Authentic Brands Group. Why should you care? The company filed for Bankruptcy in August, but since then, employees and customers have been holding out hope that another company would come save them. An Instagram account called “Save Barneys” was created to help promote their mission to find a buyer. Now, their Madison Avenue store will be turned into a “pop up retail experience” and their name will be licensed out to other stores. Brands take note – even with such a strong customer base rooting for the company, the store ultimately succumbed to the retail apocalypse. [New York Times]

2. Working for a longer weekend

Microsoft tried a four day work week in Japan. Why should you care? While the time spent at work was 20% lower, productivity jumped 40%. Smaller companies have already begun using this initiative, but this experiment shows that it works for larger businesses too. The “Work Life Choice Challenge” shut down Microsoft’s Japan offices every Friday in July.
This program was put in place in an effort to combat the culture of overwork, which is especially prevalent in Japan. Employees were also encouraged to cut down meetings to no longer than 30 minutes and to use Microsoft messaging tools rather than calling. Forward-thinking organizations would do well to examine their own policies and look for opportunities to improve employee well-being because, as this study shows, it can pay off dividends for the organization, in productivity among other things. [CNN]

3. Introducing your friendly neighborhood banking application

Dave, Brigit, Marcus, Frank and Alice are not a group of friends, but rather the names of various banking applications. Why should you care? Financial services are trying to be more accessible. Researchers from Deloitte found that Gen Z and Millennials have a “general distrust of financial institutions” due to being molded by Great Recession. By giving brands human names, companies hope to become familiar to their audience. In the past, restaurants had first names as company names, like Wendy’s or Ben and Jerry’s, because friendliness was paramount to their service. Now, banking products are having to focus on customer experience in the same way that all consumer products have had to adjust, however we’ll see if it is enough to overcome cynicism borne out of the Great Recession. [Vox]

4. Wine in Space

European startup, Space Cargo Unlimited, is researching what a micro-gravity environment can unlock for various products. Why should you care? Their most recent delivery to the International Space Station was 12 bottles of wine. This experiment will examine the ageing process of wine in space. In a year, the space wine will then be compared to the same wine aged on earth. Researchers are expecting the wines to taste differently due to the effect of radiation on chemical reactions. This wine is the latest addition to the list of products and companies going to space for innovation. [Tech Crunch]

5. Tech Gives Back

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook have donated a total of five billion dollars to alleviate the California housing crisis. Why should you care? This is an interesting marriage of two unrelated trends. Tech firms have been hit by a lot of criticism about spreading disinformation and user privacy and are looking for ways to get back into society’s good graces. At the same time, the federal government has retreated from housing assistance during a time of need especially in areas in the same cities or near to the headquarters of the very same tech firms. According to an associate professor at Hunter College, “These commitments are easier than raising taxes and serve as public relations during a difficult moment.” As tech firms continue to expand their reach into public services (and seek forgiveness for their latest scandal), these types of actions could become more common or even the start of a new industry standard. [Bloomberg]

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