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Global Startups, Like Buffer, Build Distributed Teams — Here’s How

Modern global teams have awesome people spread across multiple timezones. Lots of teams have digital nomads changing locations faster than we can keep up with.

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In a tech startup an entrepreneur’s role is not limited to product development. In fact, it involves a little bit of everything from customer service to handling support queries. Yet, a true challenge for any startup founder is to bring in the best talent and scale well.

 

“Modern global teams have awesome people spread across multiple timezones. Lots of teams have digital nomads changing locations faster than we can keep up with.” — Timezone.io

 

When I contemplated hiring for my own startup I faced many challenges. The biggest was the unavailability of quality talent. Hiring the right people in a startup is key since you’ll expect employees to start executing as soon as they are on board. Startups don’t have the luxury of a “honeymoon period” that most corporate jobs offer.

Exhausted by my own hiring process I decided to review the staffing strategy of a few startups, including Buffer. I soon realized that Buffer, like many other technology companies, has a fully remote team.

 

Valuable Lessons On Distributed Teams

As Joel Gascoigne, the founder and CEO at Buffer, explains “Buffer is a fully distributed team [of 25 employees]. It’s a decision I had to make at the end of 2012, and it’s interesting to reflect on that decision now. I am happy to report that I am in love with the choice we made to be distributed all across the world. When I say we’re a distributed team, I mean that we’re literally spread across the whole planet.”

By the way, this is how they look across timezones. Cool, isn’t it?! Even 37Signals founder Jason Fried discusses the benefits of remote working in the video below:

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This was an eye-opener for me. The concept of distributed teams, while popular amongst today’s startups, intrigued me immensely. Suddenly it made a lot of sense for me to consider hiring remote employees. Apart from being cost effective it also opened many doors that were restricted by geography.

However, while executing a remote hiring strategy, I learned a few valuable lessons. I believe every entrepreneur should learn these lessons if they plan to hire remote employees for their growing startup.

 

  1. Startup Experience Preferred

    According to Leo Widrich, the co-founder of Buffer, “entrepreneurial spirit” is essential. “As a startup, we’re moving at a very fast pace that’s often hard to keep up with if you’re coming from a larger company (at least that’s what we found so far),” he explains. A remote employee may be thrown off-guard with their newfound independence, thus prior experience is valuable.

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