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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An all-remote startup is offering companies a one-stop solution to set up their employees to work from home.

Why it matters: If the pandemic year of enforced remote work was a rough one for many employees, it's in part because there was little time to prepare what they needed to work out of the office.

  • But with hybrid and remote work here to stay, an opening has emerged for companies to provide the necessary tools — including those comfy Aeron office chairs.

What's happening: For a few thousand dollars per worker, the startup Firstbase will provide the software that helps companies manage the hardware that remote workers need, and it can also ship hardware to employees and provide remote IT support.

  • "That means desks, chairs, headsets, microphones, laptops, monitors and increasingly going into perks and other offerings as well," says Chris Herd, Firstbase's CEO. "The whole aim is to make remote workers as safe, comfortable and as productive working at home as they would be at the office."

Background: Firstbase began as a fintech startup before it went all-remote in 2018. The company began creating internal tools to track the technology its workers needed, and in late 2019 pivoted to providing remote work service — just in time for the beginning of the pandemic.

By the numbers: In April, Firstbase closed a $13 million Series A round led by the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, and Herd says the company has hundreds of customers on its waitlist and recently signed a $3 billion publicly listed firm.

Between the lines: Herd is a CEO who eats his own dog food. He lives and works in a small town in Scotland and talks about "remote work as a bridge to higher quality of life."

  • "I missed my daughter walking, laughing and talking for the first time because I was working in an office," he says. "I want to live and work closer to my family, and remote work was the only way to do that."
To be honest, I don't care about the future of work. What we're really talking about is the future of living.
— Chris Herd, Firstbase

Go deeper

Unruly customers threaten economic recovery

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pace of the economic recovery hinges in part on workers returning to jobs that involve dealing with an unpredictable public. But many of those workers say increasingly combative customers — angry about everything from long wait times to mask mandates — have prompted them to quit.

The big picture: Aggressive and violent clashes between customers and service workers over COVID safety protocols over the past nearly two years have led to prison sentences, fines and deaths.

Biden signals openness to ending filibuster for voting rights legislation

President Biden participates in a CNN town hall at Baltimore Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday at a CNN town hall he'd be willing to consider doing away with the filibuster in the Senate in a bid to protect voting rights and "and maybe more."

Why it matters: With an evenly split Senate, legislation requires at least 10 Republican votes making it highly unlikely any new voting rights bill would pass with the filibuster in tact.

10 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.