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Wrike: What’s on the way for the workplace in 2019?

Vice President of International Sales and EMEA General Manager of Wrike Ireland Patricia Du Chene.

The phrase “the future of work” is becoming ever more common.

As emerging technologies align with shifting attitudes and priorities, we’re seeing that traditional 9 to 5 office jobs are no longer the norm. And as Dublin becomes more multicultural and international politics shift, the tech landscape in the Irish capital is likely to see significant changes over the coming year.

Evolution of the Workplace

The definition of the word “workplace” is changing. I expect we’ll start to see some very real differences in how Dublin and EMEA offices operate in 2019. While open plan offices have been shown to hinder productivity and decrease face-to-face communication — ironically, the very things they were initially intended to foster — they are here to stay. But they will be used differently in 2019.

We’re going to see a tremendous uptick in the number of people working remotely on at least two or three days a week.

Remote work and at-home work are fairly new concepts in Ireland, the UK, and Continental Europe, but they are catching on very quickly.

Companies should embrace this change and provide secure technology that enables and supports both.

Today, tools such as enterprise-grade instant messaging, video conferencing, and collaborative work management platforms are vital.

Offering employees the option to work from home and the flexibility to create their own work schedules provides a number of benefits to companies.

These range from increased employee productivity to the ability to attract and retain an expanded talent pool.

Nearly all of the applicants I have interviewed in the last few months have asked about working from home part-time and about flexible work hours.

Moving forward, time spent in the office will likely be dedicated to planning and strategy meetings, collaborating on projects, and team-building.

I imagine we’ll start to see offices with fewer assigned desks — and even some businesses that have more workers than they have desks — as the need for every employee to be physically present reduces.

We’ll see a shift toward hot desk-based workspaces that operate on a first come, first served basis, as well as an increase in office booths that allow small teams to get together and large, central tables that aim to foster collaboration in bigger teams.

The Dublin Landscape

It should come as no surprise that Dublin is in the midst of a real estate crisis, both residential and commercial.

Ireland, and particularly Dublin, has done an amazing job of attracting companies from around the globe, but we are now tasked with accommodating everyone that wants to be here.

In one sense, this is a great problem to have. And one that has pretty straightforward solutions: remote and flexible work, micro-offices, and commercial development outside Dublin.

Firstly, I think we’ll see an increase in remote work options and flexible work schedules in 2019.

This will help reduce city congestion and make living outside the city centre more feasible for workers. They will no longer have to accept or turn down an opportunity based on the commute time.

It should be stressed that interest in remote and flexible work isn’t just a fad. It’s about people exercising control and about making work fit into their lives rather than trying to fit life into their work.

Companies should support this emerging preference if they want to retain top talent.

Secondly, we’ll see an increase in satellite offices just outside the city and the rise of micro-offices. Companies will open two or three smaller locations throughout the city, rather than one large office space.

We all know the joys of using Dublin’s suboptimal public transport system. It often feels as if those who don’t live near a Luas or DART line might as well be living in a different city.

By taking advantage of these smaller offices, companies can get the space they need while becoming more appealing to a geographically dispersed talent base.

And they retain all the benefits of calling Dublin home.

Finally, when it comes to companies that really do require larger office spaces or facilities, we’ll see a branching out into less populated suburban areas or into fast-growing cities throughout the country, such as Cork and Limerick.

Ireland’s economy is booming and we can anticipate an influx of international companies looking to move their EMEA headquarters here after Brexit.

Work-Life Balance

Businesses are beginning to undergo digital transformations and are migrating to digital workplaces.

While this may sound intimidating, it presents an enormous opportunity for workers to regain work-life balance.

Digital transformation helps teams become more efficient, effective, and productive.

A digital workplace enables employees to work from wherever they want, whenever they want, and however they want.

This flexibility will influence what the workday looks like. I think 2019 will be the year in which we finally throw out the antiquated 9 to 5 model. It just isn’t realistic anymore.

Workers have been sacrificing their lives for work for too long. We now have the tech to automate routine tasks and help us plan, manage, and execute work at scale.

It’s time to take advantage of this.

This newfound flexibility isn’t without its challenges, though. It’s far too easy for employees to work 24/7 or for companies to expect their workers to be “always on.”

As the 9 to 5 model winds down, companies need to be conscious of respecting an employee’s right to unplug.

In fact, they need to actively support it. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.

Burnout is one of the leading reasons people leave jobs. And burnout turnover is bad for business.

I think we’ll start to see companies become supportive of workers’ right to disconnect as they realise the true cost of employee burnout, whether self-inflicted or the result of existing company culture.

However, this support needs to be more than just empty words spoken at all-hands meetings.

That’s why I think we’ll see more companies follow France’s lead and institute formal policies that respect the right to unplug.

Not only do employees have the right to disconnect, but companies should truly want them to take the time they need.

Wrike Ireland staff in Dublin.

Collaborative Work Management Software

When it comes to collaborative work management software, we’re going to see far more automation and AI deployed over the next few years. Automation and AI have been popular topics recently. But so far, most vendors only offer a few automation options, and AI is primarily used on the backend. That will all change in 2019. Automation features are going to become more sophisticated and we may see the first client-facing AI feature roll out by the end of the year.

Collaborative Work Management Market

Today, customers expect to be able to buy software from multiple vendors and have everything work together.

This puts tremendous pressure on individual vendors to build connectors and integrations, but even those are mere band-aids.

I think we can expect to see more partnerships between vendors as they work towards a seamless user experience that allows consumers to stay in one application while being able to access information from another. The race is on to be the leading digital platform that enterprise-level businesses use to do the bulk of their work and we’ll likely see some market consolidation along the way.

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