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How will remote working change how we view sick days?

From sickness presenteeism to the ongoing workplace wellbeing challenges, managers have to consider how they look after staff from afar.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it an overwhelming desire from many employees to continue remote working, even after the pandemic is over.

There are many benefits employees have been able to enjoy as a result of working from home, including the lack of commute, the flexibility and less office politics.

However, while the positives of remote working are clear, that’s not to say there aren’t some challenges that need to be addressed, including loneliness, proximity bias and the dangers of burnout.

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Another potential challenge that needs to be addressed, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic, is how we treat sickness and sick days when it comes to work.

Indeed, the importance of self-isolating when showing symptoms of illness have become of critical importance in slowing the spread of Covid-19 and many have talked about how this needs to be a more common practice when showing symptoms of any illness.

However, remote working often means that people can both self-isolate and continue working when sick, even when they should possibly be resting.

Last year, software company Skynova surveyed more than 1,000 employees who started working from home during the pandemic. Four in 10 respondents said they had not taken any sick days since they began remote working. However, 62pc said they worked through physical illness and 48pc said they worked from home while dealing with mental health issues.

Closer to home, a Laya Healthcare survey of employees in Ireland in September 2020 found that 80pc of respondents said they had not taken any sick days since March 2020.

Being able to keep an eye on emails while resting in bed can have its benefits, but it’s important that managers do not let ‘sickness presenteeism’ take over the workplace culture, where people feel the need to keep working through illness just because they are able to stay at home while doing so.

Elysia Hegarty, associate director and wellness lead at CPL’s Future of Work Institute, said the last few years have seen an increase in presenteeism rather than sick days – something that remote working has made easier.

“Covid aside, one of the main contributing factors to presenteeism and/or absenteeism is stress-related and the ‘always-on’ mode which has increased since working from home,” she said.

“Organisations can tackle this by supporting their employees with workload management, providing stress management and mental health services as well as tackling the always-on culture.”

Manchester Metropolitan University’s Dr Alison Collins previously highlighted the risks associated with sickness presenteeism. She noted that several studies have shown that working while sick can increase the risks of poor health in the future and make it more likely for workers to need time off due to sickness later.

“Sickness presenteeism also has consequences for your mental health. Research shows that if someone had worked while ill in the previous three months, their psychological wellbeing took a knock,” she said.

Increased focus on wellness

While the danger of sliding into sickness presenteeism may be higher for remote workers, Hegarty said there are reasons to be hopeful about the future of workplace wellbeing.

“The pandemic has catapulted the focus on workplace wellbeing priorities forward by years,” she said.

“We have seen an increasing demand in providing wellbeing solutions to employees across all business sizes, sectors and budgets. Organisations that never had a wellbeing programme are implementing one, and for others more budget is being dedicated to it as employers not only see the need but the value.”

Now that employers have been given the green light to return to the office, should we be concerned that those new efforts around workplace wellbeing will be forgotten?

“In more cases, we are seeing wellbeing of employees being included in future workplace strategies that we’re developing with clients,” said Hegarty.

“Employee wellbeing is being considered in all phases of the return to office, the development phase, the pilot phase and the implementation phase of the future workplace strategy.”

Ongoing challenges

While Hegarty remains positive about the focus on wellbeing in this new phase of work, there will continue to be challenges for leaders when it comes to looking after their staff. From a remote working perspective, managers need to think about isolation and loneliness, as well as the expectation that people who are sick can still work while at home.

Companies going hybrid need to think about what that means for in-office staff versus remote staff and consider the risk of proximity bias leaking into the culture. And for those planning a full return to the office, leaders need to think about how things have changed over the last two years and how this might affect employees.

All of these challenges can be hard for leaders to manage, especially from a distance when remote working is still a factor.

“We also need to question the upskilling of leaders to enable them to not only lead at a distance but to be able to identify when an employee is really struggling. This is going to be a big challenge for remote working,” said Hegarty.

“One of the biggest mistakes I see employers make is that they don’t co-create their wellness programme with their employees.”

She added that a major pain point for employers is when they put budget, effort and an abundance of activities into a wellness programme, only to be met with a lack of engagement from staff. “This is because the programme is typically designed by one function without the input of the employees,” she said.

“Listening to employees and including them in the design phase is imperative to launching a wellbeing programme that is both meaningful, engaging and impactful. This is going to be even more important as we move into new ways of working and creating engaging programmes that are diverse enough to engage people remotely and in person.”

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Global Affairs

Open Source Software (OSS) Supply Chain, Security Risks And Countermeasures

OSS Security Risks And Countermeasures

The software development landscape increasingly hinges on open source components, significantly aiding continuous integration, DevOps practices, and daily updates. Last year, Synopsys discovered that 97% of codebases in 2022 incorporated open source, with specific sectors like computer hardware, cybersecurity, energy, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching 100% OSS integration.

While leveraging open source enhances efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and developer productivity, it inadvertently paves a path for threat actors seeking to exploit the software supply chain. Enterprises often lack visibility into their software contents due to complex involvement from multiple sources, raising concerns highlighted in VMware’s report last year. Issues include reliance on communities to patch vulnerabilities and associated security risks.

Raza Qadri, founder of Vibertron Technologies, emphasizes OSS’s pivotal role in critical infrastructure but underscores the shock experienced by developers and executives regarding their applications’ OSS contribution. Notably, Qadri cites that 95% of vulnerabilities surface in “transitive main dependencies,” indirectly added open source packages.

Qadri also acknowledges developers’ long-standing use of open source. However, recent years have witnessed heightened awareness, not just among developers but also among attackers. Malware attacks targeting the software supply chain have surged, as demonstrated in significant breaches like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and the Log4j exploit.

Log4j’s widespread use exemplifies the consolidation of risk linked to extensively employed components. This popular Java-based logging tool’s vulnerabilities showcase the systemic dependency on widely used software components, posing significant threats if exploited by attackers.

Moreover, injection of malware into repositories like GitHub, PyPI, and NPM has emerged as a growing threat. Cybercriminals generate malicious versions of popular code to deceive developers, exploiting vulnerabilities when components are downloaded, often without the developers’ knowledge.

Despite OSS’s security risks, its transparency and visibility compared to commercial software offer certain advantages. Qadri points out the swift response to Log4j vulnerabilities as an example, highlighting OSS’s collaborative nature.

Efforts to fortify software supply chain security are underway, buoyed by multi-vendor frameworks, vulnerability tracking tools, and cybersecurity products. However, additional steps, such as enforcing recalls for defective OSS components and implementing component-level firewalls akin to packet-level firewalls, are necessary to fortify defenses and mitigate malicious attacks.

Qadri underscores the need for a holistic approach involving software bills of materials (SBOMs) coupled with firewall-like capabilities to ensure a comprehensive understanding of software contents and preemptive measures against malicious threats.

As the software supply chain faces ongoing vulnerabilities and attacks, concerted efforts are imperative to bolster security measures, safeguard against threats, and fortify the foundational aspects of open source components.

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Choco: Revolutionizing The FoodTech Industry With Innovation & Sustainability | EU20

By Clint Bailey

— In the rapidly evolving world of food technology, European startup Choco has emerged as a pioneering force. With its website,, this Berlin-based company is transforming the way food industry professionals operate by leveraging innovative digital solutions. By linking restaurants, distributors, suppliers, and producers on a single platform, Choco is streamlining the supply chain process while promoting sustainability.

Let’s explore the journey of and its impact on the overall foodtech industry.

  1. Company: Choco Technologies GmbH
  2. Website:
  3. Head Office: Berlin, Germany
  4. Year Established: 2018
  5. Founders: Choco was co-founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio da Silva.
  6. Industry: Choco operates in the foodtech industry, specifically focusing on digitizing the supply chain for the food industry.
  7. Funding: Choco has secured significant funding rounds from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners & Coatue Management.
  8. Market Presence: Choco has a strong presence in several European cities, including Berlin, Paris, London & Barcelona.
  9. Mission: Choco aims to revolutionize the food industry by leveraging technology to simplify supply chain management, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.

Simplifying Supply Chain Management

One of the core focuses of Choco is to simplify supply chain management for food businesses. Traditionally, the procurement process in the food industry has been cumbersome and inefficient, with numerous intermediaries and manual processes. Choco’s digital platform replaces the traditional paper-based ordering system, allowing restaurants and suppliers to communicate and collaborate seamlessly.

Choco’s platform enables restaurants to place orders directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, or emails. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications.

By digitizing the ordering process, Choco improves transparency, making it easier for restaurants to compare prices, track deliveries, and manage inventory efficiently.

Streamlining Operations For Suppliers & Producers

Choco’s impact extends beyond restaurants. The platform also provides suppliers and producers with valuable tools to streamline their operations. By digitizing their product catalogs and integrating them into the Choco platform, suppliers can showcase their offerings to a wide network of potential buyers.

Suppliers benefit from increased visibility, enabling them to reach new customers and expand their market presence. Moreover, Choco’s platform helps suppliers manage their inventory, track orders, and plan deliveries effectively. These features enhance operational efficiency, reduce waste, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable food system.
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Promoting Sustainability & Reducing Food Waste

Choco recognizes the critical importance of sustainability in the food industry. According to the United Nations, approximately one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste each year. By digitizing the supply chain and enabling more efficient ordering and inventory management, Choco actively works to combat this issue.

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Choco’s platform facilitates data-driven decision-making for restaurants, suppliers, and producers. By analyzing purchasing patterns & demand, Choco helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing food waste. Additionally, Choco supports local sourcing, enabling businesses to connect with nearby suppliers & promote sustainable, community-based practices.

Expanding Reach & Impact

Since its founding in 2018, Choco has experienced rapid growth and expansion. The startup has successfully secured significant funding rounds, allowing it to scale its operations and establish a strong presence across Europe and other global markets. Today, Choco’s platform is used by thousands of restaurants and suppliers, revolutionizing the way they operate.

Choco’s impact extends beyond operational efficiency or sustainability. By connecting restaurants, suppliers & producers on a single platform, Choco fosters collaboration & encourages the exchange of ideas. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall foodtech ecosystem and creates a supportive community of like-minded aiming to drive positive change within the industry.

Future Of FoodTech

Choco’s rise to prominence in the foodtech industry exemplifies the reach of sustainability, innovation, and community. Through its user-friendly platform, Choco simplifies supply chain management, streamlines operations for restaurants & suppliers, and actively promotes sustainable practices. By harnessing the potential of digital, Choco is disrupting the future of the food industry, making it more efficient and transparent.

As Choco continues to expand its impact and reach, its transformative influence on the foodtech sector is set to inspiring, grow other startups, and established players to embrace technology for a better and more sustainable food system.

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— Compiled by Clint Bailey | Team ‘Voice of EU’
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The Implications Of Controlling High-Level Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

By Clint Bailey | ‘Voice of EU’

The notion of artificial intelligence surpassing humanity has long been a topic of discussion, and recent advancements in programs have reignited concerns. But can we truly control super-intelligence? A closer examination by scientists reveals that the answer is highly unlikely.

Unraveling The Challenge:

Controlling a super-intelligence that surpasses human comprehension necessitates the ability to simulate and analyze its behavior. However, if we are unable to comprehend it, creating such a simulation becomes an impossible task. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to establish rules, such as “cause no harm to humans,” as we cannot anticipate the scenarios that an AI might generate.

The Complexity Of Super-Intelligence:

Super-intelligence presents a distinct challenge compared to conventional robot ethics. Its multifaceted nature allows it to mobilize diverse resources, potentially pursuing objectives that are incomprehensible and uncontrollable to humans. This fundamental disparity further complicates the task of governing and setting limits on super-intelligent systems.

Drawing Insights From The Halting Problem:

Alan Turing’s halting problem, introduced in 1936, provides insights into the limitations of predicting program outcomes. While we can determine halting behavior for specific programs, there is no universal method capable of evaluating every potential program ever written. In the realm of artificial super-intelligence, which could theoretically store all possible computer programs in its memory simultaneously, the challenge of containment intensifies.

The Uncontainable Dilemma:

When attempting to prevent super-intelligence from causing harm, the unpredictability of outcomes poses a significant challenge. Determining whether a program will reach a conclusion or continue indefinitely becomes mathematically impossible for all scenarios. This renders traditional containment algorithms unusable and raises concerns about the reliability of teaching AI ethics to prevent catastrophic consequences.

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The Limitation Conundrum:

An alternative approach suggested by some is to limit the capabilities of super-intelligence, such as restricting its access to certain parts of the internet or networks. However, this raises questions about the purpose of creating super-intelligence if its potential is artificially curtailed. The argument arises: if we do not intend to use it to tackle challenges beyond human capabilities, why create it in the first place?


Urgent Reflection – The Direction Of Artificial Intelligence:

As we push forward with artificial intelligence, we must confront the possibility of a super-intelligence beyond our control. Its incomprehensibility makes it difficult to discern its arrival, emphasizing the need for critical introspection regarding the path we are treading. Prominent figures in the tech industry, such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI experiments to evaluate safety and potential risks to society.

The potential consequences of controlling high-level artificial super-intelligence are far-reaching and demand meticulous consideration. As we strive for progress, we must strike a balance between pushing the boundaries of technology and ensuring responsible development. Only through thorough exploration and understanding can we ensure that AI systems benefit humanity while effectively managing their risks.

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By Clint Bailey, Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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