Given the recent economic downturn, some companies are skeptical that the pandemic-led move to remote and hybrid work will have staying power. According to an April survey by Good Hire, 77% of managers said they’d consider firing employees or cutting their pay for refusing to return to the office. Most expressed concerns about remote employees’ perceived lack of focus, negative impact on company culture, and productivity issues.
Oscar Mattsson is of a different opinion. That’s not shocking, because his startup, Allwhere, sells businesses tools for facilitating remote work. Emerging from stealth today with $9.5 million in seed funding from DESCOvery, Allwhere aims to work with companies to implement remote work setups, manage the lifecycle of equipment from procurement to disposal, and craft onboarding, engagement, retention and wellness programs, Mattsson said.
“While the current market is temporary, the new ethos that’s emerged regarding flexibility and employee wellness is permanent. Teams have realized that they can work just as efficiently using a distributed model, and a strict return-to-office plan often leads to losing top contributors even in a recession,” Mattsson said. “[But] after two years of remote and hybrid work, nearly half of knowledge workers still do not have the tools they need to do their job. As a result, budgets are lost and employees are stretched thin, which is why companies outsource these tasks in the first place.”
Mattsson began his career at WeWork, where he was a founding member of the company’s enterprise division before working with partners to expand WeWork into daycare, food and beverage, mobility, and other areas. While he saw WeWork through its low points, Mattsson says he ultimately saw the value in services that enable flexible work.
Mattsson founded Allwhere in 2021 within DESCOvery, D.E. Shaw’s venture studio, where he was joined by WeWork alumni Ben Kessler (Allwhere’s chief marketing officer) and Josh Rosenthal (head of customer experience).
“I saw a gap in the market for a solution that catered to the needs of businesses that were adapting to a newly remote, hybrid and distributed world,” Mattsson said. “Allwhere is an Old English term meaning ‘everywhere,’ which aligns with our mission to support employees and employers in any type of workplace.”
Allwhere furnishes corporate customers with employee equipment, products, tools and perks, even going so far as to find vendors and suppliers. In addition to installation and retrieval of office hardware, furniture and accessories, Allwhere provides wellness programs, subscriptions, gifts, IT hardware repairs and upgrades, and more.
Using Allwhere, companies can build their own white-labeled “stores” with configurable kits and HR and IT process integrations. Dashboards allow management to oversee the doling out of equipment, wellness and perks as well as budgets and status updates. Meanwhile, when provided a link to the aforementioned store, employees can select the equipment, benefits and services they need and get tracking information and pick-up and delivery options for any applicable equipment.
Mattsson says Allwhere has worked with customers looking to onboard new hires with hundreds of laptops to companies purchasing merch — branded backpacks, T-shirts, and the like — for their first in-person events post-pandemic.
“Concretely, Allwhere provides white glove, personalized service at scale, so internal teams can focus on other tasks,” Mattsson said. “Most companies are working with different vendors for all of these different things, so the HR, IT and executive teams we speak with are often relieved to find a solution that does it all.”
Mattsson notes that during the pandemic, companies attempted to maximize the value of their IT assets in particular even at the expense of employee satisfaction. A 2020 survey by Nulab found that nearly a third of people working remotely due to the pandemic had to purchase equipment out of pocket for work.
The pressure to cut operations costs is increasing as a recession threatens to materialize.
“Many companies are scaling back budgets, reducing the sizes of their teams, and experiencing equipment supply chain issues for the new hires they are bringing on. We solve all of those pain points with competitive pricing and efficient retrievals, both of which optimize inventory and trim vendors,” Mattsson said. “These services sit at the core of our business and benefit our customers especially in the current market … While it’s in theory possible to have internal teams handle equipment management, employee wellness, and swag, among our other offerings, it’s not the most economically sound or effective solution.”
Mattsson says New York-based Allwhere has customers ranging from startups to enterprises in North America, Latin America, and Europe — though he wouldn’t reveal names. The focus in the next year will be on hiring and scaling operations, as well as expanding the capabilities of Allwhere’s platform, he said.