The Path Less Traveled for Talent Recruitment and Retention



According to London Business School’s Annual Global Leadership Summit poll, over a third of surveyed companies project more than 50% of their workforce will work remote by 2020. That may seem like a surprising number until you realize how much a remote workforce could benefit your company. Here’s how it benefited ours:

When Brant DeBow and I formed BiTE we had several goals for recruitment and retention. We wanted to hire only senior resources. We never wanted to offshore any of our work. And we wanted the chance to invest in long-term relationships with our team, which meant we also wanted ultra low turnover.

These were lofty goals for any company, but for a self-funded start-up we knew they were enormous. Finding talent is always a struggle, and we watched the talent arms race between large tech centers wage on. Companies both gigantic and small (in large tech center cities) competing aggressively to poach the best resource from competitors and keep their own resources from being nabbed in the process.

Spend any time in Silicon Valley and you’ll see this fantastic world where programmers are wooed by lavish parties that tout how amazing it is to work for [insert huge company/well-funded start-up here] reminiscent of the unabashed days that would make F. Scott Fitzgerald gasp. But to what end?

It’s a race that drives salaries to the firmament and all but ensures high turnover. If we had limited ourselves to this small and hotly contested tech center talent pool, we wouldn’t have been able to satisfy our goals.

So how could we attract and retain senior talent in this atmosphere? We decided to hire the best talent – no matter where they lived. Though it went against the norm, we built a company without the office, expanding our recruitment from 20 miles from a central office to the entire United States. And we made remote work the rule not the exception.

But how is a completely distributed model different from tech companies that allow some remote work? Companies that allow some remote work run under an entirely different assumption: while working remotely keeps resources happy, the “real” work gets done at the office. And when remote work is not at the core of your process, remote workers are often left out of the loop. This disconnect between onsite and remote workers further reinforces the concept about where the “real” work gets done.

When everyone is remote, everything changes. Chance meetings occur over Google Hangouts or through our favorite tool, Slack. No one is left out because everyone is using the same tools to collaborate. What once seemed like a liability is a huge bonus as workers are happier, far more productive and actually communicate much more easily. Why? When everyone is connected by a host cloud-based remote tools (like Slack, Pivotal Tracker, Google Docs, Dropbox, Google Hangouts, etc)  both on mobile and their laptops you create the new virtual office with a strong culture staffed with the best talent from all over the country.

The new virtual office is by far a more adaptive, flexible and more productive that, thanks to a host of newly emerging tools has finally delivered on the promise of a virtual workforce.

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