Finding talent for a fast-growing tech startup is a challenge, especially in competitive markets like Silicon Valley. The solution to hiring the people you need without waiting forever, poaching from competitors, and breaking your salary budget? Look beyond your local market for new sources of talent.
At Agari, we are always on the lookout for talent near our Bay Area headquarters. But we also have a presence just outside of London, a remote team in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a sales force located around the world. Here’s what we’ve learned from our remote hiring experiences.
Four Upsides to Hiring Remote Employees
Remote employees can bring value to your company beyond the work you hire them to do. We’ve found four ways we benefit from having remote employees in Raleigh and other locations.
First, geographic diversity allows us to be present in regional markets in ways that a centralized operation simply cannot be. Our remote employees build strong relationships with prospects in areas far from HQ, and many of our Raleigh hires come to us with valuable local contacts. As an added bonus, our Raleigh office is in the same time zone as our East Coast customers, so Agari is available to do business on their schedule.
Second, now that we have a presence in Raleigh, we’re in a good position to recruit more talent in the region as we grow. This is important because there’s so much competition for tech talent in Silicon Valley and throughout the entire Bay Area. We chose to get creative and look outside our local zone to solve that recruiting challenge.
We’re not alone in this. CityLab reports that startups are beginning to seek out talent in areas with good colleges and lower costs of living, from Boulder, Colorado to Trenton, New Jersey to Indianapolis, Indiana. Like those cities, Raleigh is a thriving hub for tech research, innovation, and talent development. The other cities in the North Carolina Research Triangle—Durham and Chapel Hill—provide sources of talent too.
We opened our Raleigh office in 2016. Now, our development and engineering team is based there, as well as tech support, product managers, and members of our customer success team.
Third, the talent your company needs may be more affordable in a different market. In our case, the cost of living for the San Francisco Bay Area is notoriously high—73% above the national average, according to Forbes. Meanwhile in Raleigh, our local employees’ cost of living is just 1% above the national average. Especially if budget is top of mind in your hiring process, consider recruiting in areas that have a lower cost of living than your headquarters location.
Fourth, hiring remote employees allows you to move your business forward without waiting around to make hires in a tight local labor market. And flexibility—including the option to work remotely—is a key retention benefit for 86% of tech hires.
So, adding remote employees has helped us expand our reach, connect with a new pool of talent, hire top talent cost-effectively, and maintain our pace of growth. Wondering what the catch is?
Remote Employees Bring Three Challenges
The first challenge when adding remote talent to your organization is finding people who are a good fit for remote work, whether they’ll be working individually or as part of a remote team. Some roles, like sales and customer support, can be a natural fit for remote work since these employees are used to working independently.
For other roles, vetting is crucial. Our talent acquisition manager, Adriana Rojas, recommends evaluating potential remote hires’ experience working in remote teams and using each interview to get a sense of how successful the candidate will be working away from HQ. This helps determine whether they can stay motivated and inspired, despite working in a separate location.
Once you have remote employees, the second challenge is to keep them engaged. The physical distance between your headquarters and other offices—and the time difference, if there is one—has the potential to leave remote teams feeling out of the loop. The solution is to operate as one unit in terms of information sharing and idea generation by keeping the lines of communication open. That includes making sure your remote workers have access to your office manager and leadership team, in addition to their managers and teammates.
The third challenge may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. The perks of working at HQ should extend to your remote employees as much as possible. If your remote team hears from colleagues at HQ about their catered lunches, gym access, and a breakroom filled with unlimited snacks, they will feel marginalized if they aren’t getting those perks, too. Treat every location to the same or similar goodies and you’ll be in a better position to recruit and retain remote talent.
Four Ways to Build the Bond Between Remote Teams and HQ
Meeting the basic challenges of hiring remote employees is a good first step. The next is to strengthen the connections among your entire organization, regardless of where they work. We’ve found four ways to build these bonds.
First, we try to keep everyone engaged. We bring people into the headquarters office as new hires so they can see what the culture is like here at our home base within the San Francisco Bay Area. These visits allow new team members to put names to faces (and vice versa) and to directly experience and understand our leadership team and what we value.
Second, we try to have the same type of activities to keep the culture alive across our locations. Consistency is the key to maintaining a cohesive company culture. So, we aim to make sure that everyone has the same access to training, social events, and treats like catered lunches.
Third, we pursue transparency across the organization with monthly all-hands meetings. These events are a way to keep the lines of communication open between our executive team and all our employees. To be effective, it’s important to schedule your all-hands at a time when everyone can attend, despite the time differences, and to record it so employees who are at a client meeting or on PTO can catch up later.
Fourth and finally, we use technology that allows us to communicate in real-time with each other. Zoom for face-to-face meetings, Slack for quick conversations, and Google Drive for document sharing can make it feel like colleagues are down the hall rather than across the continent. That way no one misses out on important information or good ideas, wherever they come from.
When your company can handle the challenges of engaging remote workers and build bonds across locations, you can enjoy the benefits of hiring both nearby and far afield. We’re doing that now, and we plan to continue to do so far into the future.
Consider joining the Agari team, no matter where you’re located! Check out our open positions for more information.