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HR Tech Companies Are Defining The Future of Work

1st Apr 2022
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On Friday, I got a ping on LinkedIn: “Are you going to HR Transform in Las Vegas next week?”

On Tuesday, I was on a flight out to Las Vegas to attend HR Transform. With 100+ companies in attendance, I wanted to listen and learn to figure out an answer to the question, “What’s the future of work look like for tech companies?” 

For two days, I fielded pitches from exhibitors, listened to speakers in sessions, and initiated conversations on breaks with attendees. When it comes to the future of work for tech companies, I found a few companies living in the past, several thinking in the present, and most actively creating the future. 

Everyone Get Back In The Office, Now!

One San Francisco based company I spoke with forced their employees back to work mid-2020. The company had grown from 9 employees to 120 employees in a year, just closed a $40M Series B round, and wanted to capture the energy and accidental interactions that come with being a startup on hyper growth trajectory. 

Somehow, listening to this story and imagining $85k per year cold-callers in an expensive SF-based office felt like a very odd and antiquated approach to the future of tech work. Imagining it further, I’d venture to say it even felt wrong. 

Give us a minute, we’re thinking long and hard…

Transition to Airbnb. Q Hamirani, Global Head of People Operations at Airbnb, shared with the audience in a session that “defining what the future of work looks like” is one of Airbnb’s top 3 People goals this year. 

Somehow, this feels more natural and in line with where most tech companies are at right now. They’re doing deep thinking about the future, actively watching what other companies are doing, and figuring it out. 

And then, there’s startups who are busy creating the future. 

Workchew is a startup turning hotels and restaurants into safe workspaces with discounted eats. Employees who are working from home, but need to get out of the house, can hop on to Workchew and reserve space at a hotel or restaurant to have a dependable work environment outside of an unpredictable coffee shop. These easily reservable work spaces are being offered in 22 cities as an employee benefit to companies. 

This was just one of many startups innovating on the future of work for tech companies. There’s more startups I was inspired and excited by as well. 

The digital version of the office 

Imagine walking into the lobby of Google at the Googleplex. TV screens display the latest search queries in real time. A photo wall of that one guy at Google who took pictures with every celebrity celebrates the history and growth of the company. With every breath you take, you inhale inspiration and exhale aspiration. 

What’s that lobby look like now for employees who have just been onboarded? A Zoom waiting area? An unbranded Google site with HR policies? An inbox? 

Cleary is coming out of stealth mode and introducing the digital lobby for workplaces. It’s just one example of reimagining the things we used to take for granted in office, and creating digital experiences around them. 

More category creators

There’s other category creators too. Wallit is creating a workplace wallet. Twine has created the virtual water cooler, and even launched the first Zoom app for breakout sessions to better connect employees in a Zoom environment. Zeoon is creating a metaverse for public talks and co-working. 

If all that sounds like regular talk in the HR tech space, here’s the key difference between HR tech in 2022 compared to years past: the quality of the founders, technology, and companies has never been higher. 

There’s real investor dollars and interest in solving workplace problems in HR. Cleary’s co-founder previously sold his last HR tech company to Twitter. Workchew and Wallit both have raised $2M+ seed rounds of funding. Cvent acquired DoubleDutch, the last company from Twine’s co-founder. Zeeon has Airbnb’s Global Head of People Operations as an advisor. 

The quality is real, and the tech works. 

Somehow, watching these demos and listening to founders feels like the future. A hybrid approach where employees can work from the comfort of their home, until it becomes uncomfortable, and they need to relocate to a dependable and interesting work space with the tools and technologies to keep them connected. 

What will the future of work look like for tech companies? It seems like tech companies are creating the outline, and leading the rest of us to that future…whatever it may be.  

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