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Workplace Trends: The Office "Group Cleanse"

Your office might need a good cleansing, but let's not go there. No, let's talk about cleansing our inner beings by living on all-natural, limited-calorie liquid lunches in the name of teamwork!

The office-wide "group cleanse" is pouring into the workplace, according to a story in The New York Times. Trendy office fridges are now stocked with "cleansing" drinks for employees to live on all day. For up to a week, employees agree to take part in a team-building, 1,200-calorie-a-day, all-liquid diet, and apparently it's becoming all the rage in industries ranging from fashion to finance, and it doesn't matter if you're "lunching" with a client, either. Just whip out your liquid lunch in a nice restaurant and ask the client if he or she would like one, too! It tastes like crap, according to one employee who describes his cleansing drink as "gnarly tasting." Awesome. I tell you, this trend is just the way to land a big account. Don Draper would be totally into this. Or at least his on-trend, new wife Megan would be.

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Now I've blogged about some strange workplace trends in my time, and as usual, the workless workplace columnist in me goes right to the risks. The first one that comes to mind: what if an employee has a yet-undiagnosed disease (diabetes, etc.) and partakes repeatedly in these cleanses over a long period of time? Could the employee come back a few years later and claim that the cleanse made the condition worse than it would have been otherwise? Hey, stranger claims have been made under the auspices of workplace law, assuming that one can find a happy, motivated lawyer these days.

Also, I hate peer pressure, whether it's at work or anywhere else. Could companies be encouraging a sense of workplace-wide anorexia through these cleanses? New York Magazine thinks so. At the very least, becoming the office food critic is a sure-fire way to gnaw on your co-workers' sense of self esteem.

Not that it's all bad. Encouraging employees to take better care of themselves is a good thing, and who knows? These calorie-restricted cleanses could have some long-term health benefits that we're only beginning to understand. I just hope the "group cleanse" trend comes along with an employee opt-out measure. And a burrito with a bag of chips on the side. I'll drink to that.

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