Growth Hacks: Lessons Learnt Scaling A Distributed Workforce Globally And Remotely
Businesses have shifted to distributed models and grown from the ground up by embracing the flexibility of hiring employees remotely without geographical constraints.
Once thought of as the "future of work," remote work has now become prolific enough that it goes beyond the concept of working from home. Businesses have shifted to distributed models and grown from the ground up by embracing the flexibility of hiring employees remotely without geographical constraints. For some, growth includes never having had an office at all, and for others, it could be expanding from a small local team to a large team located across the globe.
But regardless of employee distribution and company growth, hyper growth always comes with challenges, and so, it's essential to have a clear strategy and vision in place to mitigate any issues. At Deel, we went from a team of 50 to 550 in 54 countries in a year. We actively built the team to meet the needs of our 6,000 customers wherever they were across the globe. From this trajectory, we've learned a number of key lessons on how to successfully and sustainably build a fully distributed workforce from the ground up- here's a primer:
1/ STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Scaling a company amid rapid growth can feel like building a plane while flying it. That is why it is so important to build a solid foundation early, ideally when there are fewer than 100 team members. It is less complicated to plan for and invest in an HR technology stack and applicant tracking system when you don't have to play catch up. Every organization with a distributed workforce needs infrastructure in place for connecting team members.
Team members need streamlined access to the tools and technologies required to do their jobs. They need transparency around their contracts or offer letters, around invoicing and payments, and around the administration of benefits and perks. On the backend, from an administrative perspective, employers need the capacity to see their global workforce in one place. My biggest lesson here is making sure you build the technology stack to meet your global needs as you grow.
2/ HIRING AT SCALE
It's not rocket science: in order to grow, companies need to hire, and in order to grow fast, they need to hire fast. At the same time, it's essential that new hires meet the needs of the company. Companies need to design a talent acquisition strategy with the goal of hitting their revenue targets for the year. Without a cohesive strategy, companies can quickly find themselves mired in an unwieldy knot of hiring managers, competing strategies, and external agencies. Another key lesson is the importance of taking control of the candidate experience.
Companies should be as intentional and thoughtful with potential hires as they are with customers. Candidates should feel respected and valued, and that is just as true for full-time team members as it is for contractors. Contractors can sometimes be treated like second-class citizens, but that mindset is outdated. Treating everyone like a global team member emphasizes solidarity and commitment to shared goals.
3/ THINK ABOUT WHERE TEAM MEMBERS ARE LOCATED
One of the primary benefits of a fully distributed workforce is access to the global talent marketplace. Team members will come from different backgrounds and live in different places around the world. As such, companies should be mindful of and honor local differences and meet people where they are. They need policies that support diverse customs and cultures, like holidays that vary from country to country and all-company meeting times that alternate between time zones. Respecting hyperlocalized considerations will make team members feel seen and included in a global community.
4/ ADHERE TO A SET OF CORE PRINCIPLES
What works culture-wise at a small company might not translate to every stage of growth. Questions like how much autonomy people have, the compensation philosophy, and how to drive a performance- based culture will evolve with the headcount. At the same time, organizations need a set of core principles to serve as an anchor and a foundation. At Deel, transparency, speed, and direct communications are among our core principles. There's never any question too hard to answer, and there's always a way to answer any question that gets asked.
Those values are built into the cultural foundation of our company, and reinforced in various ways every day. Values exercises that start with the executive team and flow down are another way to reinforce them. Values shouldn't be static. Sometimes, companies think that they can put values up on a poster on the wall and call it a day, when really they should be integrated into decisions and processes at all levels- throughout interviews and hiring, performance reviews, promotion, and recognition.
Ultimately, the main piece of advice underlying all these lessons is to start thinking about these issues and questions early. It's never too early to start planning ahead.