This past summer together with Pauline we took the time to check what was going on on the “future of work” side. Since every VC out there has already shared a mapping of this space, the good thing is that we didn’t need to start from scratch. Our aim was not to create another mapping but rather to focus on several specific trends that we thought were exciting.
We’re sharing a presentation with a couple of slides that sums it up and in this video I will comment on it briefly.
When it comes to the future of work, the HR department is probably the most impacted one. And the disruption is happening at every stage of the HR cycle.
First, starting with recruiting, we’ve entered a new world for knowledge companies as they must hire globally but also compete with many more companies. Clearly what stood out to us was the emergence of a full stack of global hiring products which help recruiters not only source talents anywhere, but also deal with an increasing legal complexity.
This is probably the category that has attracted the most money the past 18 months with companies such as Deel, Remote, or Oyster raising hundreds of millions of dollars each.
After you’ve hired people, you need to onboard them. If a couple of years ago remote workers were often considered second class employees with lower wages and less benefits compared with regular employees, this situation is now completely changing. Remote and hybrid workers expect the same package and onboarding as any employee.
In that regard Startups such as Humaans or Axel are building onboarding tools which are better adapted to this increasingly fragmented workspace.
Now that your employee is properly onboarded, as a HR manager you need to make sure that she is engaged and feels good working at your company. Again, if HR managers could feel the pulse of their employees’ happiness by interacting with them at the office, it’s much more complicated when most of them are not present that often.
This is why a new generation of tools that helps measure employee engagement and happiness regardless of where they are are emerging.
Finally, we saw that for many HR managers of tech companies, the mental health of employees is becoming a top priority. If remote work has its benefits, it also comes with challenges such as the feeling of loneliness and the lack of social contact that can negatively impact the mental health of people.
Again, a new generation of mental health platforms is emerging to help them detect these problems and try to solve them. From psychologist marketplaces to mobile apps that employees can use by themselves.
Communication and collaboration
In terms of communication and collaboration my belief is that we’re seeing less disruption than on the HR side, but rather an acceleration of the trends which were happening pre-covid.
When it comes to live communication I did a whole video about the new generation of video conferencing tools that now add intelligence to the mix by extracting data from the video and audio streams. So you can watch it if you want a bit more info about this trend.
Same for the asynchronous communication trend which I also covered in a previous video. The bottomline here is that async communication tools were mostly text based and now the new ones leverage video and audio, as well as add automatically more context to the messages shared.
As I mentioned previously in the HR category, a big problem that comes with remote work is the feeling of loneliness and the lack of company culture that can come with it. One of the solutions proposed by startups are virtual offices where employees can hangout and interact, often through an interface that looks like a video game. Again, if you want more info about this trend I already covered this topic in a dedicated video.
We’ll finish the communication and collaboration category with a word about events. What’s interesting to see here is that similar to what is happening with employees who dont necessarily want to work fully remote or fully at the office but rather have an hybrid approach, the same thing is happening with events. There won’t be a shift between on site and virtual events, but rather a combination of both. The majority of the startups listed on our slide enable companies to create hybrid events that people can attend in real life or by staying at home.
The rise of self-employment amongst knowledge workers is a very interesting phenomenon that I haven’t covered in my newsletter but that I find super interesting. What we’re seeing is that as more and more companies hire remote workers, more and more employees want to make the switch and instead of working remotely for one company they become freelancers.
This trend is materialized through the emergence of several verticalized freelance marketplaces where you can not only find developers but increasingly marketers, sales people and even customer support/success freelancers. Now it seems that every knowledge worker can become a freelancer, even managers or exec are being offered on-demand.
That being said, becoming a freelancer also comes with its disadvantages. The most obvious ones are on the financial side as you can have less predictable incomes and less benefits compared with working as an employee. This is why several startups now offer benefit packages to independent workers and several fintech companies help them with the financial aspects.
A less obvious trend is the emergence of freelancer collectives that help them get together in order to share leads or to pool skills to convert bigger customers. A lot of interesting stuff is happening there.
I will not cover more than that the physical infrastructure category as it’s the part where my knowledge is the most limited but the idea is that as employees want hybrid working environments. The concept of a single and fixed location for a company office is becoming obsolete. Whether iot’s on-demand office spaces or on-demand canteens for food, the traditional office is getting ubundled and consumed “as a service”.