Global remote work presents nuanced challenges:
- How do you remain compliant when paying employees who live in a different country?
- How do you facilitate a culture of collaboration beyond what Zoom calls and Slack channels can offer?
- How do you standardize data when it’s coming from all over the world?
Since the pandemic, we have seen a new generation of work tech companies emerge to solve some of those problems.
Below are three companies that raised funds in late 2022 to help build out the systems that will make remote work and remote hiring a possibility for more companies.
One of the biggest challenges to remote working right now is the regulatory landscape.
If an American company (like ours) wants to hire someone who is resident in another country as an employee, then the employer has to be ready to navigate the labor laws in that employee’s jurisdiction.
This presents enough of a hurdle that companies end up erring on the side of caution. American employers who offer remote-only positions might still require their people to be American residents, for example. And employees who have moved into fully remote positions are getting “No”s from HR when they ask about moving their families abroad.
In September, Atlas announced it had raised a $200 million Series B funding round to help solve some of these problems. The company — formerly known as Elements — has developed a Direct Employer of Record model that lets companies legally hire and onboard workers from more than 160 different countries.
The pandemic proved to be a pivot point for the company, founder and CEO Rick Hammell tells Mint Kang at People Matters. “We’ve seen a shift in flexibility for employers and employees over the last two years,” Hammel says. “For employers, there’s now a war for talent. Employers now realize that the talent pool has widened — from hundreds to billions.”
In other words, it’s not just a nice-to-have that companies can take a borderless approach to hiring. It’s necessary for growing companies to have access to a global talent pool.
But aligning hiring with the rules of multiple countries’ labor laws is difficult work. The labor laws in, say, Spain weren’t written to accommodate British citizens who work for British companies but have lived for the last four years in Mallorca. How does that employer retain that employee while remaining compliant with Spanish labor laws?
It’s those kinds of scenarios — each unique in the challenges it creates — that Atlas is trying to solve at scale.
“That’s a huge opportunity for us to help support organisations hire anyone anywhere in the world,” Atlas’ European GM, Ruairi Kelleher, told Silicon Republic’s Blathnaid O’Dea in November. “And it’s kind of a critical mission of ours.”
Another challenge that remote working presents happens on a more day-to-day level: not knowing who’s in the office or when someone’s available to chat.
And when someone is available to chat, the default move is to book a 30- or 60-minute Zoom call.
“There are too many meetings,” Roam founder and CEO Howard Lerman tells Chris Wood at MarTech. “Things that should take two people five minutes right now are scheduled for 60-minute Zoom meetings with eight people next week. We’ve been living in a world where our workflow supports the technology, and what we need to do is get to the reverse.”
In November, Lerman’s company announced a $30 million Series A round to grow its platform, which intends to build a virtual headquarters for remote companies. That virtual HQ lets employees see when a person is at their desk so they know when they can tap a coworker on the shoulder to ask a question or huddle up.
“Employees have a bird’s-eye view of their ‘floor’ in a Roam HQ,” CNBC’s Ashley Capoot reports. “People can see who is in each virtual room as well as who is working remotely, who is in a physical office and who is in the field. Some rooms have audio-only capabilities, and some have options for both video and audio, like a traditional videoconference.”
What this all does is create a variety of more efficient options to collaborate. You don’t have to fill your calendar with 60-minute Zoom blocks when you have the option to walk over to a colleague’s (virtual) desk for a quick chat.
Lerman, who contributed $10.6 million of his own to the company, tells Kyle Wiggers at TechCrunch that using Roam has cut his daily meeting times nearly in half, down to about two and a half hours per day.
Let’s talk about data sharing for a moment.
In general, this sounds pretty in the weeds — something an IT team should worry about, right?
But you cannot build a remote, multinational company without having tools and processes in place for cleaning up and sharing data.
That’s the context behind Flatfile, which announced a $50-million Series B round in September. Flatfile’s platform is designed to help companies onboard data, which basically means collecting, cleaning and moving data, usually large amounts of it.
There are lots of applications for data onboarding. Flatfile cofounder and CEO David Boskovic gives the examples of sending bulk payment data to a credit card company. “For large companies, data exchange can mean upwards of six months to prepare data causing delayed customer onboarding, cost overruns and lost clients,” he tells TechCrunch.
“… We envisioned a way to streamline the data exchange process to save them vast amounts of time and money.”
You know who else needs onboarded data? Payroll teams. They spend untold hours each month manually wrangling payroll data.
If an HR department is receiving employee data from local payroll processors in seven countries, they might receive that data in seven different formats. A tool like Flatfile can help clean up all of that information so HR doesn’t have to spend an entire paycheck cycle manually reconciling Excel sheets.
That’s one more barrier to remote work and global recruiting knocked down.
What Work Tech CMOs Should Consider
If your product facilitates collaborative remote work, cross-border employment or even smoother data sharing, consider taking the following next steps:
- Book a meeting with your marketing team to discuss whether your product’s features speak to the needs of remote workers and remote companies.
- Brainstorm new ways to connect your product to those needs.
- Create space in your 2023 content calendars to get those messages out.
Images by: Darryl Kelly, Austin Distel
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