Explore the full 2022 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 528 organizations whose efforts are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact with their initiatives across 52 categories, including the most innovative enterprise, media, and personal finance companies.
The workplace became a fraught battleground in the second year of the pandemic, with employees seeing opportunities to rethink what they want out of work and participating in the Great Resignation, as it became known, and employers often engaging in tentative efforts to define a new normal while COVID-19 and its variants wreaked havoc with even the best-laid plans. Within this charged environment, we sought to identify the companies that were either providing the kind of tools that were designed to create a thriving, positive environment regardless of whether work was in person, hybrid, or fully remote, or that inherently understood the nature of this tumult and adapted its policies and approach to serve employees. On top of those trends, we are always on the lookout for the forefront in benefits and tools that enhance work.
To these ends, our honorees for the most innovative workplace companies this year include Miro, whose virtual whiteboard service expanded to meet the growing needs of enterprises to host large-scale meetings and guide even the smallest kickoff gathering to ultimate success. Dialpad, Atlassian, Slack, and Hopin all made meaningful strides in furthering digital communication that can adapt to a variety of workplace scenarios. Lyla’s concierge service supports employees who needed help balancing work and life when it’s all taking place in the same room, particularly mental health resources, and Carrot Fertility offered the employees of forward-thinking companies a wider and more enlightened array of family-planning benefits. Dropbox modified its offices and its schedule to accommodate the realities of being a virtual-first company, and 15Five bolstered its tools to help its thousands of clients foster better managers, because a bad manager is the number-one reason employees choose to leave. And when all else fails, the job-search giant Indeed is there, with streamlined features to accelerate applying and interviewing for a job.
For improving collaboration between far-flung teams
With the rise of hybrid work this year, more businesses are looking for ways to brainstorm and collaborate seamlessly. Miro offers teams an online whiteboard tool that, thanks to a 2021 engineering update, allows 1,000 individuals to work on a board at the same time. The product is integrated with Teams, Zoom, Google Workspace, and more, and also features a template gallery, where established organizations (like TED and Atlassian) can share their sample presentations, ice-breaker ideas, or event-planning docs with other users. As of last fall, more than 400 of these had been added to what the company has dubbed the Miroverse. These efforts to be more vital have helped Miro dramatically grow both its customer and user base. Between April 2020 and January 2022, Miro grew from 20,000 to 130,000 paying customers. It works with 99% of the world’s 100 largest companies.
Miro is No. 13 on Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies.
2. Carrot Fertility
For providing inclusive benefits to workers looking to build families
Fertility benefits are one of the ways in which companies are looking to retain valued employees—especially in the tech industry. Carrot Fertility, which launched in 2016, has attracted public companies such as Box, Eventbrite, Peloton, Samsara, Snap, and Stitch Fix to embrace family planning, thanks to its holistic approach to assisting employees in the expensive, stressful process. The company offers not just in vitro fertilization and egg freezing but also assistance with adoption, surrogacy, and gestational carrier services. Amid COVID-19 restrictions, the company has embraced telehealth and medication delivery, expanding its reach from its network of more than 3,000 fertility clinics into the home to help customers cut down on in-person fertility clinic visits. In August, Carrot Fertility debuted Carrot Plans, a web-based guided program to help families navigate their universe of options to identify a strategy tailored for their needs, and in December, Carrot Fertility introduced a first-of-its-kind at-home test to monitor fertility hormones and biomarkers. The company reports that its total reimbursements have more than tripled in the past year, and it’s processed more than $16 million through its own flexible spending debit card since its 2019 launch.
Carrot Fertility is No. 46 on Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies.
For helping Great Resignation job candidates find the right fit
Job site Indeed responded to the Great Resignation with a range of offerings targeting workers looking for greener pastures, including a new hiring platform that it launched in March 2021. The platform handles the entire process, using automation to speed up some of the most time-consuming (and annoying) parts of the recruitment and screening process, such as scheduling job interviews—and then hosting any interviews via its own videoconferencing module. Indeed caters to job searchers in more than 60 countries and also offers other services aimed at helping job seekers stand out, like a résumé assessment service, and a free salary transparency tool to help workers understand how their current pay stacks up. Millions of job seekers have scheduled interviews, which typically take place just a couple of days later, and upwards of 1 million users have had their résumés evaluated. Indeed, a division of Recruit Holdings, does not break out its own financials, but Recruit reported that revenue in the nine months between March and December 2021 grew 27.5%, and its operating income grew almost 133%. The company cited in its financial statements that competition for talent fueled its growth.
For rethinking the traditional office and workday
Plenty of companies went remote during the worst of the pandemic and have now defaulted to either a hybrid arrangement or brought employees back full time without much thought. The file-storage service Dropbox, which owns DocSend and HelloSign, wanted to be more intentional. After announcing it was going “virtual first” in October 2020, Dropbox rethought its offices as “Dropbox Studios” last July—gathering places meant for cross-team collaboration and team building rather than everyday work. The company also adopted four-hour “Core Collaboration Hours” during the workday, allowing employees to work flexibly outside these windows for better work-life integration. In the quarter after instituting the change, Dropbox delivered a solid financial performance, with double-digit revenue growth compared with a year earlier and doubling its profitability.
For simplifying communication on a single platform
2021 was a big year for Dialpad, the device-agnostic cloud communications platform, in part due to the launch of its videoconferencing tool, Dialpad Meetings, and Dialpad Channels, for text and audio collaboration. The company uses AI to help employees preserve takeaways from meetings or address problems that are surfaced in, say, a call between a client and customer service rep via the company’s voice intelligence product that it’s dubbed Vi. Dialpad, led by a number of former Google Voice creators, now wants to be the one-and-only communications tool that a business needs, whether for videoconferencing, audio calls, or internal messaging. The company, which is privately held, offers its communications tools using a software-as-a-service model to hundreds of companies looking to streamline and simplify in a remote-first world. Classpass, PagerDuty, ServiceFirst, TED, and Toast are among its publicly traded enterprise customers.
For fostering collaboration between hybrid and remote teams
In April 2021, Atlassian, the massive remote-first software company behind Jira, Trello, and Confluence, launched a program called Point A in an effort to increase internal innovation and co-create with customers willing to share problems that they wanted the company’s help to solve. Point A led to the launch of five new product offerings, including Halp, a ticketing help-desk option built into messaging platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, and Jira Work Management, which helps nontechnical teams such as finance track projects with developers. In Point A’s first several months, Atlassian fielded 65 product ideas, funding a dozen of them. During the quarter Point A was introduced, Atlassian added more than 20,000 new customers and surpassed 200,000 total.
For embracing serendipity and scheduling
Arguably one of the MVPs of the pandemic, Slack continues to refine its product, with new offerings for the far-flung remote- and hybrid-working masses. The company launched several products designed to reflect the new realities of work, including its Huddles audio call feature, which is meant to replicate the casual act of swinging by a colleague’s desk, and an option to schedule when users want to send a message. Scheduled Send is particularly useful for asynchronous and hybrid teams with workers in different time zones, but also just good etiquette for colleagues who may not be early risers or night owls. Salesforce acquired Slack last July for $27.7 billion. In Slack’s last quarter as an independent company, which ended April 30, 2021, it reported 36% year-over-year revenue growth, to $273 million, and 13,000 new net paid customers.
For being there when workers need some help
Many companies are going the extra mile with benefit offerings in an attempt to retain workers. Lyla is a concierge service that supports employees by helping with the kind of daily tasks that can be challenging to complete, even when working from home, such as home projects, planning time off, and seeking out vetted mental health resources. The company emphasizes connecting users with women- and minority-owned small businesses. In May 2021, Lyla launched an app to be more proactive in staving off worker burnout rather than waiting for employees to seek out its offerings. For less than the price of a proverbial cup of coffee per employee per month, Lyla has been able to serve tens of thousands of employees at organizations such as Intuit. The average user takes advantage of the app three times a month and saves an estimated 16 hours of free time.
For helping managers level up
15Five is a suite of products intended to help develop more effective managers and increase employee satisfaction and retention—a compelling offering during the Great Resignation. It’s also timely: 15Five (named for the management technique proposing that workers write a weekly report in 15 minutes that’s designed for their manager to read in five minutes or less) has focused on standardizing manager-employee communication across hybrid teams so that remote workers don’t feel neglected. In February 2021, the company acquired Emplify for $50 million to bolster its employee-engagement software, an effort that 15Five continued last August when it launched Transform, a new platform for coaching and education designed to help managers fulfill their potential as leaders. Then in September, 15Five introduced a new Career Hub to enable a strengths-based effort to help HR managers guide employees to advancing within their organizations. Used by more than 3,000 organizations, 90% of customers 15Five surveyed said the tool has enabled more useful feedback, and the company claims more than 100% annual revenue growth.
For bringing people together
Even as some in-person gatherings returned this year, virtual events and conferences thrived. Hopin, which serendipitously emerged on the scene just before the pandemic in early 2020, spent 2021 innovating via a series of strategic acquisitions, fueled by its jaw-dropping fundraising prowess. The company has dipped into its $1 billion in venture capital to expand its capabilities to address almost every scenario a corporation or event organizer would need to manage and craft a simulacrum of an IRL event. Its January 2021 purchase of video-streaming company StreamYard added the ability to create a broadcast-style look and feel to livestreams in branding and overlay options while also allowing for only-in-digital features such as sharing live comments on screen and incorporating calls to action to drive sales. In March, Streamable and Jamm introduced video editing (which can be done within a browser) and collaboration tools for workers to engage in impromptu video conversations or send video updates to colleagues from within a Slack channel. Another pickup, of Boomset in June, added some real-world capabilities for Hopin in managing hybrid events holistically with such features as badge printing. Organizations like PepsiCo, Twitch, WSJ, and Adobe are Hopin customers.