B2B
Q1 202415.01.2024

Future of Work & Productivity

Picture of Éanna Kelly

Éanna Kelly

at Sifted

We probably felt the future of work had arrived when the pandemic forced us all to log in from home. Back then, the physical office looked toast. But while hybrid work persists long after lockdowns, we now know reports of the office’s death were greatly exaggerated.

Fittingly, investors are shedding some of their previous assumptions on the future workplace. After raising $1.3bn in 2021 and $1.1bn in 2022 in Europe, startups developing snazzy new collaborative workplace tools raised just $111m in 2023. The number of rounds for this niche has dropped from 72 in 2021 and 56 in 2022 to just 22 in 2023. In 2021, there were 19 Series B+ rounds — last year there were only two.

One conclusion is that investors have wised up about piling into companies that, for a brief moment, looked like leaders in the next chapter of work. London-based remote events startup Hopin is a good example of a bet that sizzled during Covid-19 and then fizzled when we all got jabbed and returned to our normal lives. Then there are all those sorry punts on vaguely-sketched-out metaverse tools — a futuristic workplace concept that has all but vanished.

Attention has drifted to generative AI, the new focal point in our relentless pursuit of productivity gains. Early movers are investing in chatbots to complement workloads; some feel the tech’s going to demolish millions of routine jobs in manufacturing, administrative work, programming and many other fields. GenAI will likely replace roles, but it will take time for the tech to spread and for people to figure out how to best use it. So don’t expect a big productivity pickup just yet.

20 startups to watch

  • Leapsome logo

    Sifted score

    8.58
    -

    Leapsome

    People management platform for employee alignment.

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Serial founder(s)
    • Hiring
    • Year founded

      2016

    • HQ

      Berlin, Germany

    • Latest round

      Series A
      54.5m

    • Total funding

      54.5m

  • Trengo logo

    Sifted score

    8.13
    -

    Trengo

    Omnichannel communication platform connecting businesses with their customers.

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Serial founder(s)
    • Hiring
    • Year founded

      2017

    • HQ

      Utrecht, Netherlands

    • Latest round

      Series A
      32.7m / Aug 2021

    • Total funding

      34.5m

  • Flowrite logo

    Sifted score

    8
    -

    Flowrite

    AI-powered tool for effective communication.

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Serial founder(s)
    • Year founded

      2020

    • HQ

      Helsinki, Finland

    • Latest round

      Seed
      4m / Nov 2021

    • Total funding

      4.5m

  • Amie logo

    Sifted score

    7.45
    -

    Amie

    Productivity app for efficient scheduling.

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Year founded

      2020

    • HQ

      Berlin, Germany

    • Latest round

      Seed
      6.8m / Jun 2022

    • Total funding

      8.0m

  • Gravity Sketch Limited logo

    Sifted score

    7.22
    -

    Gravity Sketch Limited

    Virtual studio for effective design communication.

    • Strong investor(s)
    • Year founded

      2014

    • HQ

      London, United Kingdom

    • Latest round

      Series A
      29.1m / Apr 2022

    • Total funding

      34.3m

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