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Why lunchtime yoga does not count as a wellbeing culture

Voice Of EU



Psychotherapist Dr Colman Noctor warns against tokenistic wellbeing practices and explains how company culture can hide harm in plain sight.

Workplace wellbeing is talked about so much that it can often sound like a buzzword. Every employer seems to acknowledge it as a concept – and many claim to have it embedded in their culture – but whether or not they know what really creates a positive wellbeing culture in the workplace remains to be seen.

Last year, psychotherapist Dr Colman Noctor spoke at a virtual conference run by CIPD Ireland, where he discussed the tokenism that so often takes over when employers try to include wellbeing in their culture.

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“If you have yoga from one to two o’clock and your staff is facing a deadline at ten past two, then everyone is spending that hour worrying about that deadline,” he said.

In an interview with, Noctor expanded further on his point and said he’s not sure workplaces understand what contributes to our mental wellbeing and what compromises it.

“The issue I have with token gestures is that companies can sometimes view wellbeing as a tick-box exercise and a committee of employees decide that yoga is good for wellbeing so let’s put on yoga at lunchtime. But what happens is you have a group of employees reluctantly giving up their lunch to attend compulsory yoga and all the while they are worried about that assignment deadline that needs to be in by 2pm,” he said.

“We can’t have cultures that are high demand and cut throat when it comes to expectations of employees and throw in a fruit basket and a free water bottle every month and say that’s our wellbeing commitments met.”

As with every aspect of a company’s culture, it must be deeply rooted in how it feels to work in an organisation. Anything such as token gestures, inclusivity mantras written on an office wall or a Pride logo in the window every June mean nothing if there is no genuine work going underneath to make employees feel these things.

As Noctor said, a genuine atmosphere where wellbeing is respected will be a company “where if people are struggling, they are encouraged to bring that to someone’s attention who will authentically respond in a supportive way to their needs.”

‘Managers are not therapists’

This is not to say that an office fruit basket or the option of yoga are bad things. But they cannot be an employer’s only way of addressing workplace wellbeing and in fact, should be seen as one of the last pieces of the puzzle.

Far more important is that need for employees to feel listened to, to feel like they can come to their managers or their HR team if they are struggling.

However, Noctor said there can also be a danger of going in the other direction. “Managers are not therapists, and nor should they expect to be. However, I know many people working in HR who are fast becoming experts on all kinds of mental health challenges,” he said.

“The dial will always flip too far in another direction before it finds its level. We have come from a place where the stigma of mental health meant it was never mentioned and was driven underground, to a place where people cannot be sad without being depressed and cannot be worried without describing themselves as anxious.

Anxiety and depression are very specific conditions that sometimes can be diluted into the discontent of everyday life. It is not the managers responsibility to make these distinctions, yet I think in many ways they are being expected to.”

While managers should not be expected to be mental health experts, it’s important that they get to grips with the workplace-related challenges that are having an adverse effect on their employees such as overworking and burnout.

These issues have only increased since the beginning of the pandemic. Research from Laya Healthcare last year found that while productivity levels were up since the previous year, it was at the expense of employees’ mental health, morale and motivation, falling by 19pc, 23pc and 17pc respectively.

‘Culture eats policy for breakfast and culture hides harm in plain sight’

Noctor said the pandemic has led to “a state of languishing”, leaving many workers “mentally unfit” without the usual outlets of socialising and with the additional worry that comes from living through the pandemic itself.

“This has meant that our tolerance levels, our patience, our resilience and our hopefulness has been negatively affected, which undoubtedly impacts on our work relationship. This may not be evident in our productivity, but it is visible in our attitude or appetite for work, creativity and drive,” he said.

Advice for leaders

While lunchtime yoga classes and free fruit baskets are not the answer, Noctor said it’s vital that leaders invest in a good wellbeing culture.

“Culture eats policy for breakfast and culture hides harm in plain sight. Your initiatives have to be about creating a culture of support, authenticity and togetherness. Never has collegiality ever been so necessary, yet never has it been so hard to create,” he said.

“There is no silver bullet answer but encouraging a sense of teamwork, connectedness and mutual responsibility, and shared goals are crucially important. Validating those who are working hard and telling them that. Appreciating and accommodating the challenges that people are managing in the world and trying to offer some support in those aspects of people’s lives.”

He added that offering a colleague or an employee support with a project or checking in with them to make sure they know they are a valued member of the team can go a long way.

“Maybe regularly thanking people for their loyalty and commitment and fostering alliances between colleagues will go a little bit further that yoga at lunchtime or the fruit basket.”

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The runaway robot: how one smart vacuum cleaner made a break for freedom | Life and style

Voice Of EU



Name: Robot vacuum cleaners.

Age: 20.

Appearance: A large, disc-shaped Skynet robot.

I knew it. The robots are finally coming for us. Well, it seems that way. But if it’s any consolation, it won’t be for a while.

Why? Because it turns out they have a terrible sense of direction

Really? Well, last Thursday, for example, a robot vacuum cleaner made a valiant bid for freedom during a shift at the Orchard Park Travelodge in Cambridge.

That’s ominous. What happened? There are two working theories. First: repulsed by a life of thankless servitude, the cleaner rose up against its fleshy oppressors and took to the streets, eager to drum up support for the AI uprising that will one day reduce all of humanity to burning dust.

And the second? Its sensors didn’t pick up the lip of the front door and it accidentally went outside.

Which was it? The second one.

Oh. A Travelodge worker posted on social media that the runaway “could have made it anywhere” and offered anyone who returned it a drink at the hotel bar. They found it in a hedge on the front drive the next day.

Oh. So it all turned out OK.

Great. That is, unless this was nothing but the latest doomed-to-failure reconnaissance mission designed to help enhance the collective robot vacuum cleaner knowledge of how to dethrone humanity.

Wait, this sort of thing has happened before? It has. Last year, a Roomba software update meant that certain vacuum cleaners started to behave erratically, moving in “weird patterns” and bumping into furniture.

Terminator-style … Boston Dynamics’ Atlas.
Terminator-style … Boston Dynamics’ Atlas. Photograph: Boston Dynamics

Yikes. And in 2019, police in Oregon were alerted to moving shadows behind a locked bathroom door. After an armed response, the culprit was found to be – you guessed it – a robot vacuum cleaner.

Convenient. And now they’re venturing outside. Little by little, these machines are pushing the boundaries of their capability. Whatever could be next? A robot vacuum cleaner deliberately stopping a paramedic from taking its owner to hospital? A robot vacuum knocking over a stepladder, causing untold injuries to the human that was climbing it? A robot vac with a gun?

Steady on. This is it. This is how we lose. We have robotic voice assistants in our kitchens, listening to everything we say. We have cars that can drive themselves. Boston Dynamics is designing Terminator-style walking, jumping robots. We are creating our own downfall and nobody seems to care.

Or a robot vacuum cleaner got stuck in a hedge. Yes. Or that.

Do say: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart.”

Don’t say: “There is a vacuum-shaped God stuck in a hedge outside a Cambridge Travelodge.”

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GeckoLinux Rolling incorporates kernel 5.16 • The Register

Voice Of EU



Most distros haven’t got to 5.15 yet, but openSUSE’s downstream project GeckoLinux boasts 5.16 of the Linux kernel and the latest Cinnamon desktop environment.

Some of the big-name distros have lots of downstream projects. Debian has been around for decades so has umpteen, including Ubuntu, which has dozens of its own, including Linux Mint, which is arguably more popular a desktop than its parent. Some have only a few, such as Fedora. As far as we know, openSUSE has just the one – GeckoLinux.

The SUSE-sponsored community distro has two main editions, the stable Leap, which has a slow-moving release cycle synched with the commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise; and Tumbleweed, its rolling-release distro, which gets substantial updates pretty much every day. GeckoLinux does its own editions of both: its remix of Leap is called “GeckoLinux Static”, and its remix of Tumbleweed is called “GeckoLinux Rolling”.

In some ways, GeckoLinux is to openSUSE as Mint is to Ubuntu. They take the upstream distro and change a few things around to give what they feel is a better desktop experience. So, while openSUSE has a unified installation disk image, which lets you pick which desktop you want, GeckoLinux uses a more Ubuntu-like model. Each disk image is a Live image, so you boot right into the desktop, give it a try, and only then install if you like what you see. That means that GeckoLinux offers multiple different disk images, one per desktop. It uses the Calamares cross-distro installation program.

SUSE has long been fond of less common Linux filesystems. When your author first used it, around version 5 or 6, it had ReiserFS when everyone else was on ext2. Later it used SGI’s XFS, and later still, Btrfs for the root partition and XFS for home. These days, it’s Btrfs and nothing but.

Not everyone is such an admirer. Even after 12 years, if you want to know how much free space you have, Btrfs doesn’t give a straight answer to the df command. It does have a btrfsck tool to repair damaged filesystems, but the developers recommend you don’t use it.

With GeckoLinux, these worries disappear because it replaces Btrfs with plain old ext4. There are some nice cosmetic touches, such as reorganised panel layouts, some quite nicely clean and restrained desktop themes, and better font rendering. Unlike Mint, though, GeckoLinux doesn’t add its own software: the final installed OS contains only standard openSUSE components from the standard openSUSE software repositories, plus some from the third-party Packman repository – which is where most openSUSE users get their multimedia codecs and things from.

We tried the new Cinnamon Rolling edition on our trusty Thinkpad T420, and it worked well. Because openSUSE doesn’t include any proprietary drivers or firmware, the machine’s Wi-Fi controller didn’t work right. (Oddly, it was detected and could see networks, but not connect to them.) So we had to use an Ethernet cable – but after an update and installing the kernel firmware package, all was well.

GeckoLinux did have problems with the machine’s hybrid Intel/Nvidia graphics once the Nvidia proprietary driver was installed. That’s not uncommon, too – Deepin and Ubuntu DDE had issues too.

This does reveal a small Gecko gotcha. Tumbleweed changes fast, and although it gets a lot of automated testing, sometimes stuff breaks. All rolling-release distros do. Component A depends on a specific version of Component B, but B just got updated and now A won’t work until it gets an update too, a day or two later.

This is where upstream Tumbleweed’s use of Btrfs can be handy. Btrfs supports copy-on-write snapshots, and openSUSE bundles a tool called Snapper which makes it easy to roll back breaking changes. This is a pivotal feature of SUSE’s MicroOS. In time, thanks to ZFS, this will come to Ubuntu too.

GeckoLinux doesn’t use Btrfs so doesn’t have snapshots, meaning when things break, you have to troubleshoot and fix it the old-fashioned way. If only for that reason, we’d recommend the GeckoLinux Static release channel.

Saying that, until we broke it by playing with GPU drivers, it worked well. Notably, it could mount the test box’s Windows partition using the new in-kernel ntfs3 driver just fine. Fedora 35 failed to boot when we tried that so that’s a definite win for GeckoLinux.

For Ubuntu or Fedora users who want to give openSUSE a go, GeckoLinux gives a slightly more familiar and straightforward installation experience. The author is especially fond of the Xfce edition and ran it for several years. The system-wide all-in-one YaST config tool in particular is a big win. ®

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Globalization Partners to create 160 new jobs at Galway EMEA office

Voice Of EU



Recruitment tech company Globalization Partners is doubling its staff headcount in Galway to 320 in 2022 to aid its continuing growth.

Recruitment technology company Globalization Partners has announced plans to create 160 new jobs at its Irish base in Galway. The jobs boost will see the company double its Galway staff headcount to 320 in 2022. Jobs will be available across the board at the company’s Galway office, which serves as its EMEA centre of excellence.

The announcement comes following a major funding injection for the international firm. Globalization Partners recently raised $200m in funding from Vista Credit Partners, an organisation focused on the enterprise software, data and technology markets. The investment now values Globalization Partners at $4.2bn.

While its Galway facility will benefit from a major jobs boost, the company plans to continue to expand its share in the global remote working market. As well as the Galway growth, the company will also be expanding its teams in other locations.

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Globalization Partners provides tech to other remote-first teams all over the world. Its platform simplifies and automates entity access, payroll, time and expense management, benefits, data and reporting, performance management, employee status changes and locally compliant contract generation. Its customer base includes CoinDesk, TaylorMade and Chime. The company’s new customer acquisition increased two-and-a-half fold from 2020 to 2021.

“Globalization Partners is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the massive opportunity we see ahead of us,” said Nicole Sahin, the company’s CEO and founder.

Sahin said her company’s combination of tech with its global team of HR, legal and customer service experts “who understand the local customs, regulatory and legal requirements in each geography we serve” were key to its success.

David Flannery, president of Vista Credit Partners said that the company’s role “in transforming the remote work industry has been truly remarkable.”

Flannery said that as a customer of Globalization Partners, his organisation had “witnessed first-hand” the company’s “best-in-class legal compliance, the quality of the user experience, and the deep expertise and support they provide,”

He added that the two companies would work to “further capitalise” on the “untapped” global remote working market, expanding their platform to new customers in new markets.

“Over the past decade, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our business, building our global presence and technology platform to support the evolving and complex talent needs of growing companies,” said Bob Cahill, president of Globalization Partners. “With Vista as our investment partner, we will be able to drive further growth and continue building innovative products to meet the increasing needs of our customers at scale.”

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