Nearly every startup begins as a lean, scrappy team that works closely in a central hub — it’s an interesting time when each team member is wearing multiple hats, likely working across several different job titles and is hands on with all aspects of the business.
But as your company grows, you’ll quickly discover that scaling has a unique set of challenges, from hiring those who are the right fit, to transitioning a multi-functional team into specialty areas, to expanding offices cross-country or overseas. I’ve found the latter is a particular challenge for most.
There are numerous benefits to building a team across varying offices and locations — drawing from a larger talent pool being number one. Tapping into major markets across the world opens your startup up to more potential applicants and in turn, helps gain the talent you need to grow.
But these benefits also come with potential challenges, including overcoming communication and language barriers, time zone differences or lack of alignment, just to name a few. Some employees may feel they’re out of sight and out of mind, which can quickly impact culture across the company, particularly if the newer, smaller offices feel like headquarters is dictating the terms.
My co-founders and I have worked through these very same challenges as we’ve scaled our company and have put a lot of thought into how we can best approach office expansion and integration to alleviate these issues and ensure our employees feel seen and connected to the company – whether they’re based ten feet or thousands of miles away.
Create opportunities for team members to connect in person
I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in face-to-face time, enabling your employees to get to know the people behind the online and phone personas that they work with.
You can do this in numerous ways, whether that’s bringing everyone together once a year or throughout the year for special projects _ face-to-face time gives your employees an opportunity to build a connection and understand one another’s interests, work style and strengths on a deeper level. While this is achievable to a certain degree via email or phone, meeting face-to-face expedites this process significantly. In fact, research has shown that face-to-face meetings are 34x more successful than email thanks in large part to the boost from non-verbal cues (which are lost in phone and email interactions).
While Druva is headquartered in Silicon Valley, the majority of our employeesa are across the globe — with 300 employees in the U.S., and more than 500 spread across APAC and EMEA. What’s more, each region houses a variety of workstreams, so we’ve found it’s best to tailor our approach to each team:
- Hosting an annual kick-off: At the start of every fiscal year, we bring our global sales and product teams together for a multi-day meeting near our headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. This gives us an opportunity to not only ensure that everyone is aligned on the company’s strategy and objectives, it also helps create a sense of camaraderie. These are teams that work across the globe and as a result, often communicate over email. Being able to meet in person or meet other members of the team builds connections that are vital for a healthy organization.
- Setting aside budget for site visits: It’s not always practical for employees to travel to other offices regularly — whether that’s due to tight travel budgets or personal commitments — but I encourage every company to allocate travel budget for office visits that empower both headquarter and remote employees to travel and get to know team members. Whether it’s flying someone to London to meet with their new team lead or sponsoring an extra night stay so an employee on personal travel can visit another office while they’re in the city, encouraging team members to take the opportunity to meet face-to-face — outside of annual events or product launches — not only creates a greater culture but fosters collaboration, which can lead to greater productivity long-term.