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Are innovative companies like Amazon at war with families?
A New York Times article alleges, among other things, that Amazon's intense work environment makes it nearly impossible to have a family. - photo by Chandra Johnson
Tech retail giant Amazon has come under fire after a New York Times article called out the company's work environment as being gruelling and especially difficult for employees hoping to have a family.

The scathing article, which included interviews with more than 100 past and present Amazon workers, painted a pretty damning indictment of one of the most successful companies in the world as being one of the most notoriously hard to work for.

The stories employees shared with the Times read like a white-collar horror story, in which highly educated, well-compensated adults were forced out or had their productivity questioned in light of health concerns like thyroid cancer and stillbirths.

"Behind both the Times article and the responses to it is a larger debate about the future of high-prestige, white-collar work in America and the toll it takes on family life," Vox's Ezra Klein wrote. "This article, like many before it, is fundamentally about whether some of the most privileged, productive and highly compensated workers in the world can have both the job they want and the life they want."

Aside from the well-documented potential for health risks posed by on-the-job stress regardless of the kind of job held, union leaders in the United Kingdom are accusing Amazon of working its warehouse crews there into musculo-skeletal disease and anxiety disorders.

The timing of the article is especially bad for Amazon when companies like Microsoft, Netflix, Facebook and even the U.S. Navy are grabbing headlines for work-life balance considerations for its employees. The question now is, if a company is looking to change the world, does that mean everything else has to stop for its employees? Maybe, wrote business strategist Ben Thompson on his Stratechery blog.

"It's hard to escape the conclusion that any company that seeks to compete on a superior user experience must push further than anyone else," Thompson wrote. "Few want to admit that progress comes at a cost."
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