More companies are implementing work-from-home policies in the midst of escalated concerns over the coronavirus. As such, it’s no surprise that businesses which equip remote workers are seeing an uptick in interest.
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Case in point: Los Angeles-based Growrk, an upstart founded last March, but only officially launched operations a mere six months ago. Growrk says it has seen a 10 times surge in customers for its offering amid companies–particularly those located in the Bay Area–increasingly asking employees to work from home.
I hopped on the phone with founder and CEO Carlos Escutia, a former VC and co-founder of venture-backed furniture rental company CasaOne, to learn more.
Even before concerns over the coronavirus recently ramped up, Escutia said he believed the increase in remote-first companies was a trend that was not going away.
“Over the next five to 10 years, the notion of how office work should be conducted will change,” he said. “We saw that happening slowly. But things like this might only accelerate that change. This is a use case we were not expecting, but we’re in a position to make a difference.”
This week alone, Growrk–which is in the process of closing its first funding round–has signed some of the largest tech employers in the Bay Area as customers, according to Escutia. He declined to be more specific for confidentiality reasons.
“A lot of the large companies we had initially contacted but had not heard from are suddenly calling us back, saying ‘we need to do this,’ ” Escutia told Crunchbase News.
How it works
Growrk operates under the premise that most remote workers prefer to be at home most of the time as opposed to going to co-working spaces or coffee shops.
Growrk charges a monthly subscription fee to help companies “of all sizes” equip their remote workers flexibly and comfortably with ergonomic home workspaces. Because it has direct relationships with manufacturers, Escutia said, the company is able to cut out the middleman. As a result, it can offer lower prices than if companies directly purchased the equipment themselves.
Monthly subscriptions range from $50 to $188 a month, and there’s a three-month minimum. Employees–who in many cases are using monthly stipends provided by their companies–have the option of keeping the equipment at the end of their term, or returning it to Growrk. A high-quality home workstation retails for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 if purchased, according to Escutia. That includes a sit-stand desk, ergonomic chair, LED desk lamp, monitors, monitor arms, peripherals, file cabinet and other amenities such as ergonomic stand mats.
Companies also allow employees to get what they need a la carte.
“Purchasing them [equipment] for a temporary situation is not practical. We wanted to build a solution that was highly flexible for not only large established companies, but also startups,” he said. “We’re able to customize packages that meet specific budgets.”
Growrk currently has five employees and also operates as a remote-first company staff in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Mexico. Unsurprisingly, due to the surge in demand, the company is hiring.
Even before coronavirus became a concern, remote work has been on the rise. A 2019 Future Workforce Report conducted by Upward found that by 2028, 73 percent of all teams will have remote workers. And a 2019 analysis by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that remote work grew 44 percent “in the last 5 years” and 91 percent “in the last 10 years.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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