The pandemic has created winners and losers across the business realm, but companies focused on remote work have found themselves in an enviable position. This includes video communication and collaborations tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as cloud service providers like Box and fledgling human resources platform Remote.
As its name suggests, Remote is designed to help companies set up and manage their remote workforce anywhere in the world. Today it announced a $35 million round of funding co-led by Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures. Other investors include Box cofounder and CEO Aaron Levie, Flatiron Earth cofounder Zach Weinberg, and Eventbrite founders Kevin and Julia Hartz.
Remote has established legal entities in more than 60 countries, spanning the Americas (including the U.S.), Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia. This allows the company to offer services spanning payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance for businesses of all sizes. The employer retains employee IPs, invention rights, and day-to-day operational control while sidestepping the laborious and resource-intensive task of setting up shop in each market.
Companies can manage all employees and contractors from a single dashboard and easily view their location, contract status, salary, and time-off benefits.
Employees are also encouraged to handle onboarding for the Remote platform once they’ve been allocated a company email address.
Remote offers various plans, from a free tier that includes a limited set of features aimed at contractors to a more comprehensive toolset starting at $599 per employee per month.
Founded in early 2019, Remote is a fully distributed company itself. Although it is officially registered in San Francisco, its two cofounders and leadership team are spread across Europe and the U.S. The company launched its platform to the public in April of this year, and its Portugal-based CEO Job van der Voort told VentureBeat the company has expanded from five to more than 50 employees in the months since. Van der Voort added that Remote’s key business metrics are looking bright.
“Our growth has exceeded our expectations, with both our customers and revenue having doubled almost every single month,” he said.
Prior to starting Remote, van der Voort was VP of product at DevOps giant GitLab, which happens to be one of the most prominent remote-working companies in the world. GitLab is also one of Remote’s customers.
“I brought so many learnings from my days at Gitlab to Remote,” van der Voort said.
One of these lessons, he said, is the importance of making time to foster team bonding outside of work-related tasks. “The company has to make time and budget for people getting to know each other, every single week,” he added.
Another lesson van der Voort took from his time at GitLab is that asynchronous work — that is, work carried out by people at different times, usually in different locations — can be incredibly powerful, although managers have to lead by example. “That means that you don’t have meetings to do things that can easily be a written message,” he said. “Documentation is key.”
The COVID-19 crisis has caused a number of big-name companies, including Twitter and Facebook, to announce permanent remote working policies, but in many ways the pandemic has only accelerated an existing trend. Last year, payments processing giant Stripe announced a new remote engineering hub, which it said offered access to a much larger talent pool, while Terminal raised VC funding for a platform that helps startups build their own remote engineering teams.
WordPress.com parent Automattic has long served as a poster child for the remote-work movement, with its entire 1,200-plus workforce working remotely across 77 countries. The company has naturally developed a bunch of tools in-house to help its team communicate and collaborate, many of which it now makes available to other companies looking to go remote.
The pandemic has also favored like-minded companies in other sectors, like fledgling virtual event startup Hopin, which today announced a $125 million raise — its third round of the year — at a $2.1 billion valuation. Remote only announced its inaugural seed round of $11 million back in April, so the fact that it has already raised more than triple that figure is further proof of the pandemic’s effect.
According to van der Voort, companies wanting to successfully transition to remote operations have to commit to the philosophy and ensure their talent is truly distributed.
“If you embrace that, you’ll end up with an amazing group of people from all corners of the world, which ultimately helps you build amazing products,” he said.