Saturday 21 July 2018

Tech company hopes 'mothers' room' will help to lure new staff

Mikkel Svane with Leo Varadkar at the Zendesk opening. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Mikkel Svane with Leo Varadkar at the Zendesk opening. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A software company doubling its workforce to 500 people in Dublin hopes that its new "mothers' room" will help attract workers from rivals Google and Facebook.

Zendesk founder Mikkel Svane told the Irish Independent that the "mothers' room" will let female workers use a breast pump away from toilets or other communal areas.

"There are so many situations where mothers are forced to sit and pump on the toilet or some little break room and it's not a great experience," Mr Svane said.

"So we're just trying to make that better. Trying to combine being a parent and having a career is sometimes very hard. So as a company we need to make that something that people can actually manage."

Mr Svane said that competition to get skilled staff was "intense". Several large tech companies in Dublin are now targeting people who have taken time off to raise a family or look after small children, with significant shortages in some employee categories.

The "mothers' room" is joined by a "tech-free hideaway" room and a music room as Zendesk tries new ways to attract the coveted tech workers.

Zendesk makes customer support software that lets companies do things such as chat with customers online. More than 290 employees are already in the new 58,000 sq ft office.

Mr Svane said that the Dublin office, led by vice president for engineering Colum Twomey, is a regional headquarters for product development.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opened the new €10m Zendesk headquarters, which is located beside the Grand Canal in Dublin 2.

Mr Svane said that Zendesk has hired "more than 120 new staff" in the past 12 months.

The company is also making a big push on its non-work activities in Dublin.

It set up an organisation called the Zendesk Neighbour Foundation, which last year gave around €140,000 in grants in Ireland to entities such as the Simon Community, Temple Street Children's Hospital and iWish, a grassroots initiative to inspire young women to pursue careers in the science and technology industry.

Zendesk has five other offices in Europe: a sales, marketing, and customer support team in London; regional offices in Berlin and Paris; and engineering hubs with sales and support teams in Copenhagen and Montpellier.

Its global headquarters is in San Francisco.

Irish Independent

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