The Rise of Modern Workplace Technology during COVID-19

By Aarti Vellimedu

How has Remote Work affected Productivity? Technological advancements like video conferencing and cloud-based task management systems aren’t new in the workplace. They’ve been around for years, as productivity has been steadily prioritized in our digitized world. Until recently, the vast majority of companies still preferred employees to be physically present in the office for most of the Monday-Friday work week; yet after the recent global shift to remote working, employees are increasingly demanding the privilege to work from home. In a recent 2020 analysis conducted by Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics, “85% of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their company because of greater flexibility [with performance-based work]”. This leads to an interesting conclusion: the biggest advantage of our recent COVID-19 mandated foray into remote work might be giving companies the opportunity to see that productivity can be just as high at home (with ample use of the technological tools available to them).

What does this insight mean? Admittedly, this conclusion doesn’t factor in all company motivations for in-person work; including preference for face-to-face meetings, or more effective in-person workshops and “all-hands” meetings. However, there are still a significant number of companies who retained an in-office policy simply out of fear that employees working from home would result in decreased productivity. After this worldwide remote working experiment, these companies will likely be more open to increased use of digital tools to supplement a more remote workforce, potentially having actually seen productivity increases from remote working. Some of the reasons for this productivity increase could be the following:

Lack of a commute to work Less of a separation between work/home (people may inadvertently work longer hours) Autonomy Potentially fewer distractions than an open office

The Intermediary’s Role in Technological Growth This introduces a new opportunity: if companies are overwhelmingly looking for technological supplements to maintain their increased rates of productivity, there is room in the market for new, innovative startups to act as a platform to connect technology vendors, sales professionals/consultants, and organizations looking for change. Fyrii.ai is a startup that does exactly that; to simplify its business model, I created a rough diagram, displayed as Figure 1 below. Typically, technology vendors would attempt to partner with freelance sales consultants, who would then “sell” the vendors’ technological solutions to organizations looking for those specific types of solutions. Fyrii streamlines the process, connecting all three parties on one platform. Figure 1: A visual representation of Fyrii’s business model, connecting technology vendors, sales/strategy consultants, and organizations looking to for innovation and change.

I reached out to Padma Subramanian, Fyrii’s Co-Founder, for her opinion on the importance of an intermediary marketplace like Fyrii in the upcoming months. She gave me her thoughts on the matter:

“The way I see it, the future (both during and after the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak) will fundamentally provide a major economic opportunity: while being a difficult time for startups, there will be a large rise in the number of freelance agents (market, content builders, etc.) in many fields.”

Continuing on this line of thought, Subramanian emphasized that such a marketplace model is sorely needed for organizations to connect to both freelance agents (in her words, “passion economy agents”) and technological vendors. Her vision is for a marketplace where vendors can market their solutions on a subscription-based model, customers can view and compare all opportunities available to their business (with the ability to ask for expert advice),

Companies will also be looking for technological solutions