For many of us, going to work these days no longer means going into a specific office like it used to. Also at Peak we’ve moved to a model where team members are dispersed all over Europe, there’s optionality to go to one of our offices in Amsterdam, Berlin or Stockholm. But no one is expecting you to. This post is about the future of work and why we invested in Seatti, a German start-up that’s helping businesses manage their hybrid workforce and physical office space.
Office-life is not dead
Not so long ago “working from home” in a managers’ eyes meant “shirking from home”. Offices were seen as an instrumental ingredient for building an effective workforce:
- They were practical in providing employees with a physical place to work from.
- They gave managers a sense of control, being able to ensure their teams were working.
- An environment for ideas to cross-pollinate and boost creativity.
- A place for employees to socialize and create a culture.
21st century innovations such as open floor plans, Slack, co-working spaces changed the way people work, but the habit of going into the office seemed to persist. It took a nasty pandemic to help companies realize that their employees are actually quite capable of working without their boss physically overseeing them.
We do not think the office is a thing of the past. We believe offices are here to stay. Rather, it is the nature of the office and our relationship to it that has fundamentally changed. Coming into the office will be less about supervising employees and individual desk work, but more about collaboration, meetings and socializing with your co-workers. Depending on their needs, workers will come in one day and work from home the next. We think a hybrid workforce will become the new standard, for small start-ups and large corporations alike.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Once we formulated our thesis we started taking a closer look at nifty tools for hybrid teams. From companies that help with at home office set-ups, to companies in the video communication space and tools that help with hiring remote employees. We quickly realized that the opportunity lies not only in “creating the new”, but also in “managing the old”. When the pandemic forced companies to use their old offices in a new way, the simmering demand for a tool like Seatti boiled over, it necessitated a better way for hybrid companies to manage and collaborate.
Seatti’s mission is to enable hybrid companies to maximize collaboration while minimizing office and admin costs. With Seatti’s tool, employees can book flex-desks in the office, share their on-site or remote work location and meet up with colleagues nearby. Thereby Seatti helps reduce office space while fostering personal collaboration in hybrid remote teams.
With Seatti’s worker location data, companies will learn how their office spaces are used and when employees of particular teams are interacting. They can those “digital bread crumbs” to experiment and learn how to achieve the office utilization, attendance and types of collaboration they want: trying various office locations and configurations, testing a pilot floor plan before overhauling the entire space, and exploring the impact of small tweaks. Seatti’s technology will help them equip employees with the spaces and technologies that best support their needs.
New competitors and existing options can be expensive, slow to implement and lack enterprise features or key integrations. Seatti’s software easily integrates with Microsoft Teams and costs an order of magnitude less than the leading incumbents.
Strong opinions, loosely held
We met Christopher, Seatti’s CEO, at the end of 2020. His drive stood out immediately, and as a team of former entrepreneurs, we know a hustler when we see one. We decided to keep a tab on him and his team. Back then, they were still working on a transactional marketplace business model, helping workers find remote work stations in underutilized locations (vacant hotel rooms, empty restaurants etc.). However, soon Seatti also realized that the biggest challenge for hybrid workforces didn’t lay in the discovery of new workspaces, but in the management of the old. A pivot was made.
“The last year and a half have pushed the shift to hybrid models at a previously unimaginable pace – 92% of companies will now transition to a hybrid workforce. Seatti supports companies in this transition. We make sure that every employee always knows where there is a desk available, which colleagues are working nearby and when they can meet up in person. At the same time, companies can employ this work location data to develop their ideal workplace strategy and reduce office costs.”
Christopher’s experience as a Project Manager at Tesla and from working with large corporations in his role at Deep Dive has clearly been an asset to the development of a product experience that is meeting the moment.
“Even before the Covid crisis, in my time as a project manager at Tesla, I came in contact with New Work concepts, such as desk sharing and hybrid remote work. It was always a challenge to find a flex desk and I never knew which colleagues would be in the office – that’s when the idea for Seatti came up.”
Chris is joined by two co-founders; Moritz Hartmann is responsible for all things tech and Johannes Eppler, CPO, functions as a bridge between business development and tech. Moritz previously worked as a frontend engineer at venture-backed tech company ThinkSono and Johannes has a background in both business (Osram Ventures) and Tech (TU Munchen).
When we look at founding teams, we want to see a well-balanced combination of hustler, hacker and hipster personalities. We want to see founders that are gritty, thoughtful and open-minded. As we closely watched the team execute over the last year, we became convinced and saw they’re unrelenting energy and agility in every meeting we had. Chris drives and pushes, Moritz builds and Johannes genuinely cares about creating a fantastic product. For Johannes; Seatti’s success isn’t measured in a huge exit valuation, but in how many employees are truly happy with the product.
Why Customers love Seatti
As the physical and technological structures for omnichannel collaboration are changing and more people will work remotely, we are likely to see less physical interaction between workers. However, it could mean that the times employees do choose to meet in person, can become more meaningful. This happens because individuals, not companies, now decide when and how to engage with others.
We see that companies use software like Seatti to map and get insights on how teams are using their newfound agency. As Seatti becomes the owner of the worker location data, they can help management optimize their office capacity, bring down costs and define strategy for new physical spaces.
As part of our diligence process, we chatted with multiple customers, each of whom said Seatti was an integral part in their team’s transition to a hybrid model. This was also reflected in the employee usage data we analysed. Leaders in Facility Management, HR and IT sang Seatti’s praises for the intuitive product design and the ease of integration with Microsoft Teams. Every single person we interviewed anticipated further rollout to other offices. Within 6 months after launching earlier this year, more than 10,000 employees are using Seatti on a weekly basis. Teams at Osram, Sartorius and BDO are on boarded or waiting to be signed up.
Peak and the Future of Work
The line between professional and personal life was already blurred by inventions such as e-mail and the smartphone, but with this mass adoption of working from home, it’s reached a whole new level of murkiness. It seems as though tomorrow’s workforce prefers flexibility and agency above all. Peak wants to back start-ups that help companies keep their hybrid workforces feel happy, connected and effective.
Our investment in Seatti marks our second investment in the future of work, virtual meeting software company Mibo being the first. We believe Seatti will play a key role in the managing hybrid workforces and physical worker location data. We’re thrilled to support the team as they continue to develop their product and help more companies transition into a new way of working.
Are you building a company that aligns with our vision of the future of work? Let’s chat! Reach out to me at [email protected].