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Tech’s mental health crisis continues

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Tech’s mental health crisis continues

The mental health of many technology workers is worryingly poor. In fact, two out of five consider themselves at high risk of burnout, with 42% of them thinking about quitting their job in the next six months as a result.

The State of burnout in tech 2022 report by mental health app provider Yerbo, which was based on interviews with 32,644 respondents around the world, also reveals that women feel themselves more at risk of burnout than men – 46% versus 38.2%.

The study attributes this situation to people who work long hours and don’t have enough recovery time. This is leading to feelings like exhaustion, inefficiency and emotional detachment.

Waseem Al, chief data officer of Rockborne, which employs data and analytics consultants, agrees that there is a greater risk of tech workers becoming burnt out now than it was during the pandemic .. A key challenge, he says, is that widespread talent shortages are creating “a lot of understaffed teams at the moment – perhaps more so than during the pandemic because of current disparity in supply and demand”.

This situation is being exacerbated by the increase in digital transformation projects due to the various lockdowns. It is also not being helped with a widespread shift to hybrid working. Ali says that this is creating a “disjointed corporate culture” in many cases. People also have to commute back and forth at least once a week, with all the associated costs due to rising petrol prices, while also dealing with frustration at technology issues at home.

“Tech can be a stressful job and will not slow down in the future,” he said. “Whether you are at home getting bombarded with messages and emails or working in an office filled with people who need support, the stress will build up. Senior teams must manage this risk.

But this situation isn’t just having a negative effect on tech workers – it’s also having an impact on their employers.

Dealing with the impact of poor mental health

According to the Yerbo report, “Burnout can be associated with a reduced commitment to your job, low productivity, high absenteism and intention to leave the organization. In fact, experts believe that burnout is one of four factors that contributed to the Great Resignation of 2021, where millions of people quit their job globally.”

Also, research conducted by management consultancy Deloitte at the end of last year estimated that the cost to UK employers of poor mental health had risen to PS56bn in 2020-2021 from PS45bn in 2019. It also suggested that for every PS1 employers spend on staff wellbeing, there is an average return of PS5.30.

Asked what employers can do for their employees’ mental health, Alaska May, chief people officer of cloud-based security system provider Open Systems believes that it is essential to adopt a holistic approach.

The company has many initiatives such as “no screen Fridays”, when employees are not expected turn on their cameras for internal meetings and “Me Days”, which encourages staff to take off a few days a year to do something “that makes them happy”. This could include meditating, or taking up personal training.

Staff well-being is another of the five core HR workstreams of the organization and has its own calendar of activities throughout each year. It is discussed at town hall meetings, and the success of staff wellbeing is measured and discussed. However, May points out that it is not about measuring because it is more important to “show and tell ‘.”

Another key strategy is to make sure line managers can spot when employees are struggling and, if so to find solutions such as evaluating work volume and changing working methods.

“It is super-important that you ask ‘why?’. By proactively looking at processes, and making changes, it shows we care,” May says. “Things such as ‘Me Days” are also a sign that we care. It’s not just about a policy. We are showing that we care enough to say “it’s good for mental health ‘.”

“.

Thryve and Accenture are two other tech companies that place mental health and wellbeing at the forefront of how they treat staff.

Thryve

High stress and overwork are two of the main reasons many employees experience mental illness and burnout. Thryve introduced a four-day work week last autumn to ease the pressure.

But John Lennon (founder and managing director of tech recruitment company) says that this approach must be carefully thought out and implemented. It is unlikely to work if people are simply paid less for working fewer hours or end up having to work 10 hours a day over the four days.

As a result, the decision was taken to cut the working week from 40 to 32 hours and to close the office on a Friday. Various measures were taken for six months prior to the introduction of the new policy.

Each staff member received training to improve his or her time management, organizational and prioritisation skills. To share work, teams were encouraged to collaborate more closely with administrative support staff back in the office.

Certain admin tasks, such as contract sending and onboarding, were automated. After the second and fourth weeks, and once per month for the first six-months, line managers asked for feedback from their teams to determine what was working well and what wasn’t, in order to make adjustments as necessary.

Eight months later, Lennon states that it’s the best business decision they’ve made .”

People who are happier, healthier and more well-rested are more motivated to produce better results and perform at higher levels.
John Lennon, Thryve

He adds: “We’re all conditioned to believe that a five-day, 40-hour week is the right way to do things, so the biggest thing is the mindset shift. It’s a great success in terms of employee well-being, business impact, and financial impact.

After only three months, 84% of staff reported a significant drop in work-related stress, 89% felt they had become more productive and 94% said they had a far better work-life balance.

” The logic is that people who are happier, healthier and more well-rested are more motivated to produce better results and perform at higher levels,” states Lennon.

It is equally important for leaders and managers “encourage an atmosphere in which mental illness is discussed, so people feel comfortable speaking about it as they feel they are in a safe environment, and they don’t feel judged”, he said.

Taking a personalized approach is important because not every approach will work for everyone. In general wellness terms, understanding what motivates employees, regardless of whether they are looking for a promotion or more training and remuneration, is key. Understanding their problems and how to solve them also leads to positive outcomes for businesses.

The same goes for taking an individualised approach in mental health support, according to Lennon. Employees should have the ability to share how they can get the best mental health support for them. Some may prefer an open atmosphere in which to communicate, while others may prefer to be referred to professionals. Others may be more comfortable talking about their concerns with colleagues .

Accenture

While it is important to provide mental health support in times of crisis, it is also vital to offer more preventive help, according Jill Hughes, Accenture UK and Ireland executive sponsor for mental healthcare.

” The big challenge, and this I suspect is common, is getting people to use the support you offer.” she said. “I have seen firsthand how difficult it can be to admit to things, but I also know that people are reluctant to tell the truth. People also often say that they don’t think they can be helped, or that they don’t have the time. This is why we are working to raise awareness about mental health and make it acceptable to seek help .

The professional services company puts a lot of importance on listening to employees through a variety of methods. To understand the lives of people, their challenges and where they are struggling, an anonymous quarterly mental health pulse survey is conducted.

Line managers should also be encouraged to have open discussions and share their personal stories in order to create a safe environment. AXA provides counselling and “Healthy Minds Coaching” services to help people get through any difficulties. “Meeting-free Fridays” encourage people to establish healthy boundaries and develop healthy habits.

” It’s all about supporting well-being in its broadest sense and discussing it holistically so that people see it a positive thing to put money into all aspects of their health,” Hughes says. We all share stories about taking an exercise class. It is also part of the effort to encourage mental fitness .”

.

“It’s all about supporting well-being in its broadest sense and discussing it holistically so that people can see it as something to be proud of.
Jill Hughes, Accenture

The company offers assistance to people who are struggling in the moment. For instance, it has a network of 3,400 “mental health allies” in the UK and Ireland, and 10,000 internationally, who are “trained to be a first line of defence”, says Hughes.

The aim of the scheme, which is based on the Mental Health First Aid initiative and tailored to Accenture’s specific needs, is to ensure struggling employees have access to volunteers who will listen and signpost them to appropriate support.

But, because certain communities, like young people and carers, have often struggled more, particularly during the pandemics, the firm also recognized the fact that “one size does not fit all”. These groups require more personalized care.

As a result, a specific carer network, which meets monthly, has been set up to offer support, and a whole series of talks, networking meetings and other events have been put together for Carer’s Week from 6-12 June. Similar activities were also developed for young people during Mental Health Awareness Week.

As the organisation strives to improve its hybrid work approach, it also attempts to incorporate the notion of wellbeing into all it does.

Hughes concluded: “It’s not enough to view wellbeing as an initiative, but to make sure it’s integrated into our entire way of working.” The post-Covid world offers us a great opportunity to think differently and create new ideas. Therefore, we are looking at all aspects of the day to see how we can make a real difference .”

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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