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Hybrid Work Is On The Rise, And Startups Are Paying Attention

Illustration of office space converted to personal use.

Hybrid work environments — where employees go to the workplace at least once a week — are on the rise among knowledge workers. But while such arrangements may be popular, they also present plenty of complexities in areas from meeting planning to IT security.

Startups are on it. In the past couple years, developers of tools aimed at employers with hybrid workforces have raised hundreds of millions in venture and growth funding. And while funding to the broader human resources category is down sharply this year, we are seeing some investment activity around the hybrid theme.

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For a sense of where capital is going, we curated a list of 23 venture-backed companies that have raised venture or seed funding in the past two years. Business models range from meal benefits to secure collaboration tools.

Largest and most recent funding recipients

Most of the largest funding rounds for companies on our list took place last year, when overall venture investment was much higher. This includes a $115 million Series E for Staffbase, provider of an internal communications platform it markets to companies with a combination of onsite, hybrid or remote workforces. With over $300 million in funding to date, the German company is by far the most heavily funded on our list.

San Francisco-based Envoy, developer of workspace management tools geared toward flexible and hybrid work environments, is the second-biggest fundraiser, with $170 million in investment to date. Sharebite, a meal benefit service that works with both onsite and remote workers, comes in third, with $62 million to date.

So far this year, investment has mostly taken place at the seed stage. This includes a $3 million financing for Offsite, a provider of retreat planning for remote and hybrid teams, and a $4.5 million investment for Cleary, which is reimagining the intranet for the remote and hybrid work age. The largest 2023 round on our list  — a $16 million Series A — went to Gable, a provider of flexible office space.

Hybrid on the rise

There are countless opinions on the pros and cons of remote versus onsite work. On the pro side, the benefits of in-person collaboration dominate. On the con side, few relish the commute or extra expenses that come with going to the office, and remote jobs attract a much wider applicant pool.

Hybrid work, meanwhile, represents a middle ground. Coworkers meet face-to-face when there’s a reason. But there’s also a recognition that not all desk work needs to be done in the immediate company of our coworkers.

It’s an increasingly common compromise. By the end of 2023, 39% of global knowledge workers will work hybrid, up from 37% in 2022, according to research firm Gartner. In the U.S., the hybrid work trend will be more pronounced than in the rest of the world with 51% of knowledge workers projected to work hybrid and 20% to work fully remote in 2023.

Moreover, once companies start offering the option of working remotely at least some of the time, it’s tough to reverse course. Per Gartner, for knowledge workers these days “hybrid is no longer just an employee perk but an employee expectation.”

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

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