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A wave of new startups capitalizes on the shift toward hybrid work

July 14, 2021    |     4-minute read (635 words)

It turns out that hybrid work is a serious business, with an estimated 1.1 billion individuals working remotely in 2020 due to changes in social habits due to COVID-19. In turn, business leaders and innovative companies are transitioning corporate workers to a new normal, where work happens in both the home office and the corporate office.

A hybrid workplace is one where employees visit the office a few times a week and work remotely for the remainder. With several major companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft in plans to offer flexible work schedules to employees, it's not long until other businesses transition too — which means that hybrid work arrangements are the future of work.

Yet, working remotely part-time and collaborating on major projects comes with a unique set of challenges. In response, executives with excellent jobs at leading tech firms leave to work with tech companies that develop tools that facilitate communication and collaboration. Think cloud-based spreadsheet company Airtable or enterprise video software company Zoom.

And behind the scenes, more innovative businesses are searching for ways for people to collaborate in person if only a few times each week. Flexible workspace and coworking offices will likely become a norm rather than a novel idea, facilitating in-person group meetings post-pandemic.

How are innovative tech companies solving communication and collaboration challenges in hybrid workplaces?

Since hybrid workplaces are a relatively new concept for major corporations, there are many opportunities to communicate and collaborate more efficiently.

In environments where some employees work at the office full-time and others have a hybrid schedule throughout the week, it's easy to understand why remote workers feel a disconnect during group calls.

Where has Zoom been all your life?

Consider software company Zoom, which has been around since 2013 but became famous in 2020, as workers and students used it to host video calls.

Zoom solved a simple problem; the disconnect humans experience during group video calls by showing everyone's video feed on the screen, regardless of who is speaking. It's a simple solution to a complex challenge - remote group work is difficult for everyone at times.

Yet Zoom isn't the only player in a lucrative field that companies spend billions to utilize in their teams. Companies paid $317 billion for remote work IT solutions in 2020 alone, which is expected to increase to $330 billion by the end of 2021.

Speaking of Airtable...

Airtable began with a simple question: how can you reinvent the spreadsheet to help people build their own applications without understanding or writing in a programming language?

The answer — to make spreadsheets that are fun to use was enough to take Airtable from a simple two-year project behind closed doors to a competitor of Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and other dominant players in a billion-dollar spreadsheet industry.

And Airtable is excellent for collaborating with groups. You'll enjoy using spreadsheets where you can comment and mention other users, assign tasks, and even create group calendars and Kanban boards.

Flexible workspace - the other side of the equation

Some innovative startups are capitalizing on the transition to hybrid work by providing the infrastructure where companies operate publicly, and employees meet regularly.

Envoy Desks, for instance, provides tools where employees can book times at their office desk, allowing for companies to slim down their office buildings or even share a workspace with others.

And it's gaining attention from major companies, who now must consider controlling desk space to make room for social distancing while also gaining benefits like tracking who is working at the office.

Overall, the pandemic is leading to innovation both of how and where we work. Expect to see new ways of collaborating and communicating with others in our private lives and the office, whether that's at home, on the beach or at your corporate desk.

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