18 May 2018 Courier Weekly

The world’s biggest cannabis producer: Britain

PLUS: Stress in startups – Freelance work visas – Recruitment – Business survival

European cannabis conference comes to the UK.

London will host Cannabis Europa next week, to discuss the future of medical marijuana in Europe.

Despite both medical and recreational usage of cannabis being prohibited in the UK, licences can be obtained for production. As a result, the country has actually become the world’s largest legal cannabis producer. In 2016, the UK produced over 95 tonnes of legal weed, accounting for 44.9% of the world total.

George McBride of consultancy Hanway Associates, one of the organisations hosting the conference, told Courier that in London many companies are setting up in anticipation of a change to the law. ‘What people haven’t realised until quite recently is that you can work in the industry in a country where it’s illegal,’ he says. Companies are hiring across research, branding, consultancy and communications.

London-based Prohibition Partners, which is co-hosting the event with Hanway, provides market intelligence on the European cannabis market. It anticipates a dramatic shift in legal and political attitudes towards cannabis in the next five years – supported by recent moves towards legalisation in Germany and Italy – allowing a European cannabis business ecosystem to establish.

Preventing workplace stress.

This year’s UK Mental Health Awareness Week has put the spotlight on stress. The Mental Health Foundation’s report, released this week, says that almost three quarters of people have experienced overwhelming levels of stress in their life, with work being a common contributing factor.

At growing businesses particularly, where workplace pressures can be uniquely acute, the report says founders and managers can help prevent employee stress – and outlines the following tips:

  • Ensure a reasonable balance between demands placed on employees, and recognition for their hard work and time.
  • Give employees autonomy over how they complete given tasks, rather than slipping into micromanagement.
  • Watch out for employees feeling unable to switch off after office hours – regular checking of emails or answering calls out of hours can be a big contributor to work-related stress.

Elsewhere, Spotify has released an excellent podcast series on the intersection between startups and workplace mental health. Muslim women’s community Amaliah’s founders Selina and Nafisa Bakkar have also released a serious and moving discussion about the mental struggles of launching a new business in their podcast.

Estonia develops its freelancer visa programme.

Last week, Jobbatical, a recruitment agency for global job opportunities, announced it’s working with Estonia’s government to figure out exactly what a visa for freelance workers could look like.

It’s doing this by finding out where ‘digital nomads’ (working travellers who have no fixed office base) spend their money and, crucially, pay their taxes.

Estonia’s digital nomad visa, announced in February but still in the works, plans to allow visitors to live and work in the country for a full year.

This piece in the Guardian looks at the potential impact of the visa plans, on travellers and residents of Estonia.

Revamping the business of recruitment.

French recruitment-tech company Welcome to the Jungle closed a £6.2m funding round this week.

The four-year-old business is both a place for employers to find employees (and vice versa) and also a treasure trove of content about new and fast-growing companies in France.

According to TechCrunch, the cash will be used to expand beyond France (Spain is the frontrunner).

Welcome to the Jungle isn’t the only business shaking up recruitment to have secured investment recently. UK network The Dots – which aims to be to creative people what Linkedin is to white-collar professionals – secured £4m in December 2017.

Meanwhile, traditional recruitment firms are upping their game to safeguard their positions.

Global recruitment company Hays launched a data-sharing partnership with Linkedin, allowing it to track user activity such as updating skills or profile pictures. The aim is to use artificial intelligence to preemptively contact people considering a job move.

Tactics for business survival.

A group of Parisian booksellers have taken a novel approach to protecting their businesses.

In recent years, the bouquinistes – the sellers that occupy the green boxes that line the banks of the Seine – have struggled to make enough money, with many switching from selling books to hawking cheap souvenirs in a bid to make profit.

One stallholder, Jerome Callais, wants to take the market back to its roots. He’s set up the Cultural Association of Paris Bouquinistes and is campaigning for the stalls to get ‘UNESCO intangible cultural heritage’ status.

In the UK, pubs have in recent years been doing something similar. This piece in Time looks at how south-east London’s Ivy House gained ‘asset of community value’ status to stay in business.