Thanks to the pandemic, teams are more dispersed than ever. For some companies, this has led to a disconnect between lower-level employees and executives, with the latter typically skeptical of remote work. According to a GoodHire survey, 75% of managers want office workers, citing the potential lack of focus and loss of company culture. But in a separate survey by McKinsey, 87% of workers said they would take up the option of working remotely if given the choice.
Micah Remley, CEO of Robin, says companies can have their cake and eat it too by going the “hybrid” work route, which is where employees work in the office for part of the week and distance the rest. Remley joined Robin after Brian Muse and twin brothers Sam and Zach Dunn founded the startup to help businesses manage office space using booking software.
“We want C-suite managers, facilities, and IT teams to realize that dynamic hybrid workplaces don’t involve complicated technology or elaborate deployment plans,” Remley told TechCrunch in an interview by e. -mail. “Something that resonates with all leaders is that our platform removes barriers to entry into the office and creates a choice-centric workplace. When employees have a choice, getting back to the office becomes less about mandates and more about connection. »
Launched in 2014, Robin started out as a conference room scheduling app. But over the past 8 years, the platform has grown to handle various aspects of office booking, room booking, and guest management. By accessing Robin on web or mobile, workers can request rooms, offices and amenities before arriving at the office. Customers who opt into Robin’s guest registration features can use the platform to have visitors submit all documents, such as waivers and NDAs, required under office policy.
Remley also introduces Robin as a way to track desktop usage over time. In the background, managers can see how people use different spaces and tap a calculator to determine the ideal number of seats, desks, and co-working spaces for a given floor. A newer feature, the “Global Hybrid Trends Dashboard,” displays usage statistics from other companies of the same size, industry, and region, providing benchmarks.
“Robin combines your favourites, your team and the people you meet the most to provide smart recommendations on when to come to the office, and simplifies planning by automatically suggesting desks and spaces near your colleagues,” said Remley. “Desktop usage analytics gives administrators visibility into who is using the desktop, when they are using it, and which spaces are most commonly used. As enterprise workforces change over time, Robin helps clients understand how to optimize their space for changing times.”
Some workers may not be comfortable with this level of tracking. Robin says it anonymizes usage data, aggregating it across spaces, floors and buildings. But it is unclear to what extent the platform does this. We asked Remley for clarification.
Besides competing with office scheduling startups like Envoy, Officely, and OfficeRnD, Robin’s main challenge is proving that hybrid working is sustainable. According to a TinyPulse study, over 80% of HR managers believe that hybrid setups are more draining on employees than remote or full-office schedules. Some segments of the workforce are less optimistic about the hybrid than others – Deloitte recently found that more than half of women who combine remote and office work “have already experienced a lack of flexibility in their work patterns or fear it will happen in the future.” But there are many logistical issues with the hybrid that affect everyone, such as the balance between staff coming into the office and staff staying home.
As a Computerworld article points out, hybrid working can become a “minefield of injustice,” rewarding people who are more able and willing to work in the office. In a Gartner survey, 59% of female knowledge workers – who the survey found are more likely than men to express a preference for remote working – think office workers will be seen as higher performers, while 78 % think office workers are more likely to be promoted.
Remley pushes back against the idea that hybrid working is doomed. Software like Robin, he claims, can provide companies with the data they need to arrive at a work strategy that appeals to most — if not all, admittedly — employees. In any case, the startup had no trouble finding customers. Remley says thousands of teams, including in the military and government and at brands like Toyota, Twitter, Mailchimp and Peloton, use Robin to organize their work.
In an investor vote of confidence, Robin today closed a $30 million Series C funding round led by Tola Capital with participation from Firstmark, Accomplice, Boldstart and Allegion Ventures. Remley says the capital – which brings Robin’s total raised to more than $59 million – will be used for platform development, international expansion and growing the workforce of more than 190 people from Robin.
“Robin has always been focused on the hybrid work experience, knowing that eventually workplaces would move in that direction. The pandemic has accelerated that change faster than anyone could have predicted,” Remley said. As companies focus on leaner, hybrid working is becoming even more attractive as a cost-cutting measure. Many of our clients have reduced their commercial real estate footprint over the past two years and we expect this to continue. We don’t foresee a broad return to the office as we used to think about work… Employees don’t want that, and even in a recessionary environment, going all-out back to the office doesn’t make economic sense.