We work closely with the startup ecosystems and business communities in Waterloo Region and across Canada. With the influx of changes the past year has thrown at us, we reached out to a few local startups to gain some close-to-home insight on how 2021 could shape up for startups.
Remote work and the return to office
If there’s one word startups are all too familiar with – even before the pandemic – it’s pivot. Everyone is reacting differently and this has altered our concept of “the office” forever. Once vaccinations are at a level where returning to the office is safe, what will “the office” look like in 2021?
Our team has been working fully remote since the onset of the pandemic. Our dedicated developers teams have traditionally worked virtually for our clients, so this wasn’t a major change for us. Even though the office is fully equipped to make working at the office safe, we have embraced remote working effectively, and other local companies can relate.
Similar to BitBakery, Harleen Kaur, CEO and Co-Founder of Ground News says that “...given we are a software company, we were well-positioned to go fully online and remote. Given how well this has worked for it we will continue with this model, with monthly team get-together once it is safe to do so.”
Remote recruitment and onboarding
The move to remote work has opened up hiring talent beyond our region, making international recruitment an even attractive option. What does recruitment and onboarding look like for startups in 2021 – locally, nationally, and internationally?
Tomas van Stee, Founder and CEO of local company EnPowered, says they are now open willing to hire anywhere in Canada, but would still prefer that employees stay in the country. EnPowered was recently featured on FoundersBeta “companies to watch for in 2021” list.
At BitBakery, we have increased the geographic scope of our recruitment. Previously, we were recruiting from a 100-kilometre radius of Waterloo Region as well as sourcing talent through the Global Talent Stream initiative. Now, we've been recruiting nationally with a preference for employees who still have the ability to attend the office from time to time in the future.
Future business travel plans
Now more than ever, we’re taking advantage of what you can access from home. Once travel restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to travel again, how will startups approach conference and sales travel in 2021?
Van Stee said that EnPowered hopes they won’t need to travel, and would avoid it as much as possible as it is “sooooo much more efficient not travelling.” Kaur agreed saying that Ground News will try to continue to do sales remotely as much as possible.
For us at BitBakery, out-of-office activities have involved attending conferences and learning opportunities such as local networking events and recruitment fairs. It seems like most of the organizations running these events have adopted quickly and virtual conferences and meetings seem to be working well.
Read more about out experience with virtual networking and professional development:
- Everything we loved about Collision from Home
- Top 4 ways online learning can help your professional development
- Tips to land a job through online recruitment and virtual career fairs
New funding opportunities
With the world’s wide adoption of remote work and video conferencing, could this open up more funding opportunities for startups and scale-ups here in Waterloo Region?
Other companies have expressed interest in such opportunities. According to PWC and CB Insights, venture capital Investments were up 14% in 2020 from 2019. Based on this and the rounds that were raised by startups locally, it appears the pandemic has had little or no effect on fundraising.
The consensus? It seems that as long as there is no drop in productivity, a lot of companies who can continue working remotely will continue with it as there are benefits for both employees and the employers.
While many companies have committed to making remote work permanent, there are still many challenges with managing remote employees and teams. Finding ways to recognize your employees – whether they’re in the office or remote – is more important than ever. We’ll have more on managing remote employees next month.
Want to learn more about the startups mentioned in this article? Check out:
- EnPowered: Most businesses pay their monthly electricity bill without understanding the details. EnPowered gives companies and their partners the insights and tools to understand their bills and unlock enormous savings opportunities. Businesses use connected assets, such as HVAC or lights, to opt into EnPowered identified opportunities and participate directly in energy markets. Last year, EnPowered customers saved $40 million and reduced 400 tons of CO2e. Founded in 2015, EnPowered is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and is expanding across North American energy markets. For more information, please visit http://www.GetEnPowered.com
- Ground News: For anyone fighting against the rise of misinformation, sensationalism, and biased news, Ground News will help you easily compare how a story is being covered by thousands of sources from across the political spectrum and from around the world.