When it comes to innovation in work life and workplace matters, it tends to be tech companies and startups that lead the way. While large, traditional corporates are increasingly recognising the importance of happiness at work (with the introduction of, for example, Chief Happiness Officer positions) they still lag behind in comparison with smaller, more agile companies. Be it through perks or through more profound and structural innovations, startups are paving the way to the future of work, and any workplace joining that movement will undoubtedly contribute to creating happy workplaces.
The curated 2018 top work life trends by Hubble
We keep our finger on the pulse – here’s a look at the best work life initiatives that startups have been adopting all around the globe, including the UK:
RemoteYear, HackerParadise, NomadList – these are just some companies with nomadic workspaces around the world.
The Office of National Statistics reported that in 2015, 4.2 million people based in the UK worked remotely – and this number is expected to increase to 50% of the UK population by 2020. Remote work is not a trend, it’s the way forward. Companies like Jibble (UK), for example, are taking the leap and creating job posts for senior level positions such as VP Marketing as a remote work position.
This is just one of the reasons that we’ve seen take up of coworking space increase over the past few years – whilst team members are eager to work in different cities, they often still prefer a productive work environment outside of the home. Just like our Head of Marketing, Hanna!
In their 2018 “50 best startups to work for” report, LinkedIn shared that 42% of the startups that made the list use AI and Machine Learning in their business model or operations.
AI is certainly one of the most significant tech innovations coming our way, with the promise of many benefits: including taking care of tasks needing the processing of large amounts of data (think: payroll, creating reports, processing sales data,…) as well as small er and more repetitive tasks, such as replying to inbound messages collected from an online platform.
Chatbots, for instance – when trained well – can reduce the work associated with communication-based tasks, such as notifying teams of the start of an important event or period of time, welcoming new employees and walking them through the onboarding process, or communicating with inbound leads on the company’s website.
Cue the rise of Slack: the online messaging tool that pretty much all startups use for their internal communication. Be it to send reminders for a deadline or for a birthday, chat bots bring teams closer and can create an engaging and efficient online work environment. The most significant achievement of Slack might be the way it has unloaded employees’ mailboxes. Teams tend now to privilege direct and informal communications on Slack to lengthy emails.
The next step seems to be the physical workplace. Meeting rooms will soon be equipped with AI to improve employees’ experience and productivity. Already, AI can schedule meetings and manage room timetables – no great shock there. But soon it will also be able to take minutes of meetings, analyse the raw data collected (both sound and image) to derive insights, and much more.
Companies like Microsoft or Cisco already offer products with these features and more, and it’s just a matter of time before we see this new technology adopted widely.
Over 60% of the UK workforce consider office perks as an essential criteria in the selection of the company they want to work for.
Here are some of the trends we’ve seen in 2018 in that area:
With the rise of remote work and employees increasingly getting used to working from anywhere, workplaces are adapting by offering cooler, more inspirational surroundings, making a huge change from the traditional cubicle.
When it comes to company cafés, for example, big names such as Google and Facebook rest at the very top, offering free food to employees, three times a day. Bearing in mind that millennials spend almost half of their income on food, it’s a perk not to be scoffed at!
Hanapin Marketing, a medium-sized startup based in the USA, has created a fake holiday, the “2nd2nd”, giving employees the opportunity to take a day off, whilst Kabbage, a FinTech startup, rewards employee loyalty by giving them additional time off. The company offers six weeks of leave for every five years an employee spends with the company.
Unlimited paid holiday is another policy that is increasingly practiced by companies to cater to a workforce that wants more control of their time (Hubble included!). Millennials, especially, value social time and adventure through travelling and pursuing their hobbies. Not only does offering unlimited holidays send the message that a company trusts its employees, it actually entices everyone to work more efficiently.
Cool company perks
In the UK, some of the coolest company perks include travel allowances (Airbnb), unlimited holidays (Virgin), free food (Football Radar), an office pub (Peer1), and working holidays in dreamy destinations (Spencer Ogden). We’ve already mentioned how companies like Google offer three free meals a day to all employees – a substantial saving for a generation that loves to eat out.
One of the most innovative company gifts might be Propellernet’s: for each business target hit, an employee is randomly chosen and one of their dreams made true.
Organisation tools such as Asana, Trello and Pivotal Tracker are increasingly used by startups, especially in the tech world, to allocate responsibility for decentralised power.
Mainly derived from the way engineers and developers work, sprint-led systems, where teams work for a determined amount of time to deliver specific goals, allow employees to take ownership of their work.
Some tech companies have taken inspiration from the models of Blockchain technology: a decentralised organisation where power sits in the hands of every member, transparency is total, and trust is protected by set protocols. This model, applied to the work organisation, creates decentralised organisations where every member has an interest in providing their best work (via salary, equity, and so on). This means that hierarchy shifts from a top-down model to a holistic view, where everyone works for the success of their projects, and payments are made based on transparent scales and protocols.
All in all, 2018 has been a hugely exciting year for work, with much progression being made in people-oriented work trends. Rapid advancements in technology combined with a paradigm shift towards the importance of wellbeing, living and working with purpose, as well as allowing employees to be the masters of both their time and location, shapes a bright future of work and a happy workforce.
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