So your company is going WFH/Office hybrid. Great! Working from home more rules, even if management decisions or the specifics of your role mean it can’t happen every day.
Now, how do you coordinate who goes in the office and when? Does it have to be the same day(s) every week? Do you just pick a random day and hope there’s a desk open? What if you’re the only one who went in that day — did you really need to commute? Do we track all this in a spreadsheet, or do we need a whole separate tool just to keep track of it?
Officely wants to handle it all right through a tool many teams are already on anyway: Slack. They’ve just raised a $2 million seed round to grow from here.
Officely’s main draw is desk booking, allowing you to group desks by which office they’re in — or, if you’ve got a bunch of desks, into “neighborhoods” within an office. You can see how many people are going in to an office on any given day, see if there’s a desk open for you, and join if so. There’s also a few other customizations, like flagging if anyone is bringing a dog into the office on each day — for the folks who might want to stay home because of allergies or, if you’re like me, only want to go into the office when there’s at least one dog there.
You can set up customizable health screening surveys to make sure no one has a fever or known exposures, and have it automatically remind people to fill out the survey on the morning they’re expected to come in. If someone gets sick, Officely can also help with contact tracing, building a list of the employees who were in the office on the same days.
They’ve also recently been experimenting with an “Office Chat” feature, which automatically creates a new Slack room at the beginning of a day, invites everyone who is scheduled to be in that day, then archives it at the end of the day. Great for figuring out lunch plans without bugging everyone back at home.
I fired up a test instance of Officely, and it was really quite smooth. The UI for customizing some things away from their defaults can feel a bit buried, but that’s mostly because they’re working within the boundaries of being a Slack app — but they also do a bunch of neat stuff I didn’t even realize Slack apps can do. Team TC isn’t spending much time in the office right now so I couldn’t stress test it super hard, but I liked what I saw enough that we’ll probably give it a spin if/when we return to the office.
Officely is currently free for small teams, with the free plan capped at 10 employees and one office. If you’ve got more employees or more offices, they’ll charge $2.50 per office employee per month (“We only ever charge for your employees that use Officely to book into the office,” they note.) Once you grow past 500 employees, they offer custom pricing plans.
So why build the whole thing within Slack? “The interesting challenge with desk booking tools is the software has to be adopted by everyone in the company to be effective,” co-founder Max Shepherd-Cross tells me. Convincing everybody to onboard onto some new web app is tough; Slack, meanwhile, is where many companies’ mishmash of teams are already used to coming together.
Officely is a pivot; the team started back in 2017 with a different focus: hotel room booking. “We just got crushed by COVID. Overnight, we lost all of our customers,” says Shepherd-Cross. “After crying into our pillows for a couple of weeks, we had the realization that offices of the future are going to be run like hotels of the past. […] The whole booking infrastructure we’d spent the previous four years building for hotels, we now need for offices.”
This round was led by TEN13, and backed by angel investors Vu Tran (co-founder of learning platform Go1) and Adam Schwab (CEO of travel co. Luxury Escapes).