The pandemic dramatically influenced how and where we work, but as the world slowly returns to normal, it appears some things aren't going to go back to how they were.
Projections indicate that close to a quarter of remote-capable workers will be working exclusively remotely by the end of 2022, compared with 8% pre-pandemic. And up to 55% of us are expected to have a balance of working at home and the office.
Working from home requires employees to remain connected with their colleagues, and new technology has shaped this rapid change. Many remote or semi-remote workers are familiar with Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Team., Still, there are many other tools out there besides the big names, many of which are tackling more nuanced issues of connection and collaboration.
Below we have selected six start-ups that offer tech solutions that will improve the experience of remote or hybrid workers.
Tandem is a desktop app that aims to recreate the feeling of being in an office, allowing teams to collaborate in a way that mimics the camaraderie of all being in the same room. According to founder Rajiv Ayyangar, one of the app's goals is a sense of “presence” – essentially, the awareness of what your co-workers are doing in real-time, even if you’re miles away from them.
With Tandem, you have an overview of what’s going on in your virtual office, an awareness of who's available, and the interface allows for both spontaneous and scheduled conversations.
Kumospace is one of several startups that are improving the area of video conferencing. We’ve all experienced the stilted, clunky feeling of some Zoom meetings. Still, Kumospace differs from traditional video calling in that it has users enter a virtual room when they participate in a call. They can then traverse the room, talking to people when they are near them.
This is supposed to mirror the dynamics of normal socializing, where people can mingle and participate in many conversations over time. This contrasts with traditional video conference tools, where everyone is in the same conversation from the moment they enter the meeting.
Essentially, Slab is an information hub designed for remote workers. Slab is especially useful for large collaborative teams which involve shared learning. Slab allows a group of people to keep track of emerging research and documentation and organize their shared knowledge. This allows a company to create, share, and edit information, building an evolving repository of its shared endeavor.
Abodoo differs from our other suggestions as it isn’t a tool that helps with the actual day-to-day of remote work, but instead helps you get a remote job to begin with. It is a talent-matching platform that allows those seeking remote or flexible work to create a profile that will connect them with employers looking for skills in their field. Employers can post opportunities and interact with candidates who match the requirements of the job.
Doinstruct aims to take training to a new level of convenience, allowing employers to train employees via their app, which provides video courses for employees to gain certification in specific areas. What is notable about Doinstruct is that it's incredibly accessible – it does not require downloading f documents, a company email address, or even access to a laptop, meaning that trainees can be certified efficiently from wherever they are in the world.
Some words that get thrown around when remote work is discussed are “accountability” and “productivity,” as employers tend to be a little nervous that their workers might slack off when there’s no one to check up on them. Statistics show that productivity increases when workers go remote, and 15Five is a tool that will allay many bosses’ initial fears.
15Five allows management to connect with their employees via a continuous performance management tool that facilitates feedback and check-ins between management and employees. Maintaining a good connection between both parties is essential for productivity, and 15Five increases accountability as well as provides a channel for feedback and acknowledgment.
When working remotely, the key areas where issues arise are accountability, ensuring close contact with colleagues, and maintaining high levels of collaboration. People miss the social element of work, and many remote workers report feelings of disconnection or isolation.
As people move from regular, in-person office hours to remote or hybrid work, the collaboration and camaraderie of a workplace can quickly become disrupted. Fortunately, tech startups have quickly perceived the issues of this sea change and developed a range of useful apps, tools, and software to help people remain connected.