7 start-ups shaping the workplace of the future

27 Aug 2020

Image: © Nattakorn/Stock.adobe.com

We look at seven start-ups shaping the future of work, whether that’s through building new communications tools or improving health and safety.

Click here to view the Future of Work Week series.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred on a lot of changes in the workplace such as how we work, the expectations we have from employers, the technology we use and the way we network.

To mark Future of Work week here at Siliconrepublic.com, we looked at seven start-ups that are helping us adapt to the changing face of work.

Our list includes platforms that make it easier to communicate with colleagues while working from home along with companies that are setting the standards for employee benefits.

Carrot Fertility

Founded in 2016 in San Francisco, Carrot Fertility was launched to meet the growing demand for employee fertility benefits. The firm provides a range of fertility supports including IVF, adoption and surrogacy plans to improve employee engagement and retention.

With Carrot, employees can lean on the start-up’s team of fertility clinicians for support and access a network of more than 2,700 clinics in 40 countries, while getting support processing claims and reimbursements along the way. The company also offers a Carrot Card, which enables employees to access their benefit and pay for services without worrying about out-of-pocket payments.

In the four years since it was founded, Carrot has opened additional offices in Chicago, New York, Dublin, Geneva, Tokyo and Seoul. Among the companies currently using Carrot’s fertility benefits platform are Stripe and Box.


Gather is a start-up in Y Combinator’s 2020 cohort, which builds people operations workflows for, as the company puts it, “teams that live in Slack.” Designed with remote workers in mind, Gather aims to eliminate manual coordination with smart, automated communication that can be integrated with Slack and Microsoft Teams.

The start-up was co-founded by Alex Hilleary, Brooks Sime and John Wetzel, who have built a range of tools that make working remotely ­– and communicating primarily through a chat-based app – a little more personal. Gather’s app prompts companies to set reminders for staff birthdays and company events.

For instance, Gather will recognise important events such as work anniversaries and prompt CEOs or management to personally contact staff and wish them well on these occasions. Gather’s automated messages can also prompt managers to engage with employees returning from parental leave to ensure they have a smooth transition back to work.

Employers can also use the platform to send automated onboarding and offboarding checklists to employees to help welcome new staff remotely or ensure that everything is in order before someone departs from the company.


GitDuck was set up in 2019, as an online meeting tool for developers. GitDuck enables developers to talk in real time, share their code and do pair programming remotely. The co-founders Thiago Monteiro and Dragos Fotescu conceived the idea after struggling to communicate and collaborate while working remotely.

GitDuck aims to allow developers to collaborate as if they were in the same room, enabling them to chat, share code and learn from one another. The team behind GitDuck believes that the platform is easier to use than Zoom or Meet, as it has direct integrations to the code and tools that users prefer, enabling them to have more productive meetings.

Users can share code without sharing their screen, and other developers can collaborate and code directly a single integrated development environment (IDE). GitDuck is optimised for real-time code sharing, rather than a grid of high resolution videos, meaning that it has a low CPU and bandwidth consumption.


HeySummit is an online conferencing tool built to take the heavy lifting out of organising an online summit. Since it was founded, its platform has played host to speakers from companies such as Intercom, Shopify, Zynga and HubSpot.

The platform has features designed to simplify the process of producing a successful digital summit, making it easy for attendees to register and discover content at the event. HeySummit provides speaker onboarding and management tools that enable speakers to add their details, download event-branded graphics and access ready-made tweets to share across their channels.

The start-up enables event organisers to integrate technology from YouTube, Zoom, Vimeo, BigMarker and Dubb into sessions. HeySummit also offers assistance and coaching advice through its Sidekick service for events to provide feedback and direction on summit configuration, if needed.


Pitch is a collaborative presentation building tool that serves a useful purpose for both remote workers and those based in traditional offices. Based in Berlin, the start-up was co-founded in 2018 by Adam Renklint, Charlette Prevot, Christian Reber, Eric Labod, Jan Martin, Marvin Labod, Misha Karpenko and Vanessa Stock. The eight co-founders previously built Wunderlist.

Pitch aims to reimagine presentations and how they’re created from the ground up. Users can select Pitch’s custom templates or create their own for presentations, managing their company assets directly within Pitch to ensure presentations stay on brand. Users can also chat with each other on the platform, discussing changes that are needed.

Investors in the start-up include Thrive Capital founder Joshua Kushner, Slack, Zoom’s Eric Yuan, Instagram’s co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and Blue Yard founder Ciarán O’Leary. To date the firm has raised $50m in funding.


Founded by Anand Agarawala and Jinha Lee in 2016, Spatial is a New York start-up that is exploring the role of virtual reality (VR) in productivity. Spatial’s goal is to make employees feel as though they are sitting beside each other, regardless of where they are in the world.

The platform enables users to make 3D avatars, which can be used to chat and interact with colleagues in virtual reality rooms, where they can hold meetings or flesh out ideas. Participants can take note of ideas within the VR platform, search for ideas to visualise them in Spatial’s software and upload 3D models, 2D images, videos and PDFs to share.

For those who do not want to participate through a VR headset, Spatial allows them to join by webcam and to screenshare any window from their computer. The platform is available in both VR and augmented reality (AR) on devices including Facebook’s Oculus Quest and Microsoft’s HoloLens devices. The firm’s technology has been used by the likes of Mattel, BNP Paribas and Enel Group.


For those still visiting their workplaces full time, or maybe just popping in occasionally for meetings, SureWash has built an AR platform that employers can use to ensure that everybody’s handwashing skills are up to scratch.

A spin-out of Trinity College Dublin (TCD), SureWash originally launched in 2010 with the goal of training health professionals and workers in the healthcare industry on how to memorise the essential motions that are required for thorough handwashing.

The company’s software and AR technology aims to improve muscle memory, while measuring people’s handwashing techniques, providing real-time feedback on their proficiency. The start-up has already worked with more than 200 hospitals and a range of sports organisations around the world, helping them to implement hand hygiene training systems through SureWash kiosks.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic