Insights on navigating the challenges that come with change and thriving under a remote-first culture
Our bold step into being a remote-first business
As we dive into the third year of the pandemic, I’ve been reflecting on how it’s changed the way we operate here at Buyapowa. It’s certainly been an epic journey, with plenty of highs, a few challenges and a lot of great learnings along the way. I thought I’d share some of our insights around being a remote-first business over the forthcoming weeks, in the hope that they might spark some food for thought.
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon famously called remote working an “aberration” that he intended to “correct as quickly as possible.” But for so many businesses it has been a hugely positive shift. And many people are embracing the freedom it affords them on a personal level too. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky even predicts that millions will grab the opportunity to spend entire seasons working abroad in 2022, with many becoming “digital nomads” now that they are untethered from their offices.
Here at Buyapowa, we’re passionate about being a remote-first business and the pandemic certainly accelerated that journey. But when Covid reared its ugly head two years ago, we were already making significant strides in the right direction.
The nature of our business, targeting big clients like T-Mobile and HSBC, meant we had to expand internationally at a rapid pace, in order to sustain our growth curve. So instead of working solely from London, we made the early decision to have employees ‘on the ground’ in the relevant countries. Of course, we knew that came with huge advantages. Not only were our people fluent in the right languages, but they also had the intimate local market knowledge and operated in the relevant time zones too.
We also acquired a company in Vancouver and, as a result, swiftly developed successful strategies for working with distant colleagues, across continents. But the shift towards remote working wasn’t solely motivated by growth, it was also driven by our desire to find and retain talent too. The best tech staff increasingly craved flexibility, including the option to work part-time at home. And if we were flexible about where employees were based, that exposed us to a whole new talent pool, stretching far beyond our London and Vancouver hubs. If the best candidate for a job was in Manchester or Madrid, no problem.
A tried-and-tested strategy
So, by the time 2020 rolled around and the first whispers of the pandemic began, we’d experimented successfully with remote working. We’d also proven that it was a robust way of operating our business. And thank God for that, because when the world changed overnight, we weren’t panicking and frantically scrabbling around for laptops. We already had the infrastructure, culture and confidence to become a remote-first organisation.
A dynamic team
The upshot? Two years on, Buyapowa is thriving as a radically-remote business. We now have 60 brilliant employees peppered across 17 countries – including Columbia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain and France – and we have dramatically reduced the footprint of our London workspace. Instead of a big, traditional office with ranks of desks, we have a riverside hub, with breakout areas, sofas and a bar. It’s a space to socialise and brainstorm, but there’s no obligation to use it.
We have also benefited from an incredible influx of bright, hungry, dynamic people who are the very best at what they do. And the diversity of our team gives the business a real buzz too – I love it when an employee in North America tells me he caught the morning surf, just as I’m wrapping up my afternoon.
Ultimately, the last few years have been an epic adventure, with exhilarating challenges and amazing lessons along the way. I’ll be sharing much more on this over the next few weeks but, in the meantime, how is 2022 shaping up for you? And what are your biggest learnings from the last two years?
Gideon’s been leading digital brands for over 20 years. He’s proud to have built and businesses for the likes of Universal, HMV and LetsBuyIt.com, but right now he’s busy helping other brands acquire new customers in an altogether smarter way. He’s the Founder and CEO of Buyapowa (https://www.buyapowa.com/), and they’re the world leaders in reward marketing, and their platform powers customer acquisition for over 200 leading enterprise brands across 27 countries and in 21 languages.