The pandemic has triggered an entrepreneurial boom. With a large number of companies, ranging from Amazon to accounting firm PwC, encouraging remote and hybrid working styles, a cottage industry that meets this need has flourished. The growth potential is exponential, as millions of people around the world will be working remotely full or part time. A range of forward-thinking companies are offering technologies, platforms and services to facilitate this spectacular movement.
Three tech startups embody this trend. They range from companies that take care of all the legal, regulatory, and tax forms required for employees to work in various US states, as well as countries around the world.
Human resources departments need software that can educate employees who will be in the office, so you know when it makes sense to go to work, and won’t be frustrated with commuting for just three hours. to make a Zoom call that could have been made from your room.
You also need connection platforms so that a distributed network can collaborate and stay in touch with each other. Then there is the hardware. After working at the kitchen table for almost two years with a stiff chair and an old computer, you might need an upgrade now that we know it’s going to be a long-term change.
I spoke with Sami Bouremoum, CEO of Hofy, to learn more about his unique startup that aims to make it easy for businesses to set up their remote workers with everything they need to be successful.
Bouremoum, a former Bain Management consultant and doctor of computer science, is calm and confident. His company offers the technology, logistics and supplier network as a subscription service to provide and manage home offices for remote business teams around the world. Approximately $ 15.2 million in funding donated the capital to help Bouremoum pursue its global growth strategy.
Bouremoum’s business plan appears relatively straightforward, allowing companies to lease physical equipment for their workforce spread across the globe. However, he faces headwinds.
The UK, where he is based, as well as most countries around the world, are grappling with a supply chain and logistics crisis. The costs of furniture, accessories and other office-related goods have skyrocketed. Another layer of challenges is that the European Union and each of the countries have their own rigid idiosyncratic rules, regulations, taxes and compliance that must be followed. His company skillfully navigates these Byzantine edicts on behalf of his clients.
Hofy takes care of the heavy lifting: equipment delivery and installation, on-site repairs and replacements, and equipment collection and redistribution. Its software makes it easy for businesses to rent, install and manage hardware, including laptops, keyboards, printers and monitors. Hofy makes it easy to quickly get a new rental of their laptop and all the other equipment they may need to ensure a productive and compliant work setup. He says it’s as easy as inviting a coworker to Slack.
Hofy also offers furniture, computer equipment, peripherals and accessories, ergonomic chairs, desks, headsets, mice, printers, desk lamps, floor mats, monitor stands, booster seats. office and more. The company operates an online store curated to suit all professions and office budgets.
Kenzo Fong is a seasoned technical executive from Silicon Valley. He helped create Google Maps and was an early member of Uber Eats. In this capacity, he was in charge of teams spread all over the world.
Fong found it increasingly frustrating to have to juggle different incompatible platforms. These different tools are not linked to each other. This wastes a lot of workers’ time and energy, frustratingly switching to various platforms and applications throughout the workday. He says that while many products are great, there is redundancy and little major difference between Trello, Asana, and other project management tools.
To remedy this situation and facilitate connection and collaboration between workers, Fong, who often works in his van, set out on his own to found Rock. The platform is a distributed working enterprise that allows anyone to work from anywhere. Rock was created to operate both synchronously and asynchronously. Rather than productivity tools that don’t work together and actually fragment the workflow, he developed an all-in-one platform to reduce anxiety and put everyone on the same page.
With Rock, employees around the world can interact seamlessly through integrated messaging, task creation, and video calls. Unlike software that in a not-so-subtle way requires you to always be on call, there are no annoying late-night “pings”. They often create the expectation that we need to be available at all times of the day. Fong isn’t a huge fan of tech that forces you to focus on presentism and face time, instead of doing the actual work that needs to be done.
It’s an affordable all-in-one productivity platform for distributed work that combines messaging, tasks, notes, and files into one simple tool that anyone can use. You can start with a free option. There are also tiered subscriptions.
Fong points out that most productivity tools focus on teams working in the same office or time zone, or are too complicated for the average user. Rock’s goal is to have a platform that can do it all in one place by taking the functionality of all the other tools on the market and putting them into one intuitive platform.
Working at Coinbase, the large cryptocurrency exchange, Amy Yin recognized that the world is rapidly moving towards a distributed and flexible remote workplace. As this happens quickly, there is an urgent need to make life easier for employees and managers.
Yin left his good job at Coinbase to prove his thesis by focusing on creating an office booking and planning tool specifically designed for hybrid remote offices. She launched OfficeTogether, a company that offers a software platform to improve the experience for remote workers. The product also makes the life of human resources and management easier and more productive.
OfficeTogether strives to make it easy for a business to become a hybrid office business by creating capacity planning and management software that can integrate your physical space with Slack, Google Calendar, Okta, and other platforms.
An important feature for workers is that you can view the app to see who will be in the office on any given day. If the people you need to collaborate with aren’t scheduled, it might not make sense to spend three hours coming and going to the office just to make Zoom calls, which could just be done at home. It could also help employees show up in an office that is already at full capacity, or when a big, boisterous and exuberant sales meeting is scheduled.
Yin strives to productively help teams plan their time in the office together. The software department could also automatically cap the number of employees who can visit the office on a given day to ensure social distancing and health security. Human resources can keep track of vaccinations and other health issues with the program to save employees and managers time and avoid embarrassing conversations.
OfficeTogether helps employees plan their office time and view coworkers’ schedules. Employees can also complete an automated health and symptom questionnaire to make sure no one walks into the office with a fever or has traveled in the past 14 days.
The company also collects useful data, such as how many times a person comes to the office and how space is used. These data points can help management determine the amount and type of commercial real estate needed in the future.
The company is focused on the employee experience. Yin realizes that not everyone wants to be away. Some people who work from home want to get out of their house or apartment a few days a week to break up the monotony. She predicts, “Flexible spaces for people to meet will be a big part of every business strategy. Its software also enables this trend.