Businesses with substantial numbers of remote workers and even remote offices are becoming increasingly common. Particularly so in startups, where we’re looking for talent wherever we can find it and are looking to save on operational costs as much as possible.
Having people based out of their home offices, or opening offices in different cities or countries where rates are lower, makes economical sense for many startups, but it does come with some challenges – mainly around building a company culture with a desperate team.
At Kayako, there’s 150 of us across three offices worldwide and a remote team covering five countries. Even though we have three offices, our collaboration across oceans means we act like a completely remote company.
My co-founder (and Kayako CEO) Varun Shoor and I are both based in our London headquarters. Kayako was first conceived by Varun in India more than 10 years ago and grew mainly through remote teams to the global organization it is today, with team members in the UK, India, Canada, the US and beyond.
We often get asked how we manage such a large number of remote workers. If you’re wondering the same or perhaps you’re struggling to manage a remote team, here is how we do it here at Kayako – hopefully, you’ll be able to use some of these methods too.
Make the extra effort to communicate
With employees on three continents, communication takes a bit more effort from everyone than it might otherwise. We all chat in Slack, even within each office, which means that we all communicate in the same way. It helps us keep communication channels open at all times and we all make the effort share as much information with each other as possible.
Keep the hierarchy flat
Both Varun and I work closely with all of the teams in the business, and our flat hierarchy means that all team members (including those who work remotely) can always communicate directly with us. We have regular catch-up meetings with team leaders and are in constant communication with all our team members on Slack at all times (day and night!).
Have regular meetups
Varun and I visit all of our offices as regularly as we can to keep up to date on the activities from each of the teams. This gives us a chance to update them on activities in other parts of the business and helps maintain a sense of connectedness between our remote global teams.
Always be flexible
We’re all on completely different time zones which can make project managing particularly challenging. We implemented flexible working hours which is a perk in itself but also means that the team can be flexible around their working hours in conjunction with the remote teams they’re working with, depending on the project being worked on.
Above all – build a strong company culture
We’ve implemented a strong company culture based on a set of values that are present through all aspects of our business from who we hire to how we build our product and how we support our customers. We put a lot of effort into coaching others about these values: getting them into everyday vocabulary, getting them into our goal setting and feedback processes.
By bringing everyone back onto the same page and ensuring our values are being consistently lived and breathed, all our team members feel engaged and part of the company no matter where they are in the world.