Secrets to a successful remote culture
Kiwi startup Auror is a SaaS company which empowers the retail community to prevent crime, reduce loss, and make stores safer. Auror has seen huge growth over the past few years and has embraced a borderless workforce in order to ensure they can compete for the best talent. They talk to us about the lessons they have learnt through their approach of global hiring and how they keep their people feeling connected in a remote environment.
Auror operates a platform for retailers that is focused on reducing the harm and impact of organised retail crime. Essentially the company provides a place for things like shoplifting incidents or acts of aggression to be reported and gathered in one place. Keeping this information together allows patterns and trends to emerge, giving stores visibility on the size and scope of their loss. This enables them to work better with police, and create action plans to keep their own team members and customers safe
At the beginning of 2021 the company had 40 staff but now has more than 100. Most of the team are still New Zealand based as all the company’s engineering, design and product management is done here. However over the past few years they have experienced strong growth in their key offshore markets resulting in the hiring of customer facing teams in Australia, the US, the UK and Canada.
Vice President of People Experience Kirsti Grant says while Auror did have some remote working practises in place, like many companies, the pandemic accelerated their journey.
“The pandemic showed everyone how remote working could work, but lockdowns were a particular environment. I think to make remote teams work successfully long term requires a really deliberate focus, particularly if you are a company in the growth stage which we absolutely are.”
“We knew we couldn’t go completely remote, as a part of what has made us so successful is the culture that we have built and the connections we’ve built with one another. So if we are growing and adding people to the team, but we’re not being really deliberate about making sure those new people are connected and building those relationships and that Auror knowledge, then it’s not going to work. We’re not going to be as effective.”
The team tackled this by building their remote teams around hubs in different markets. They currently have hubs in Auckland, Melbourne, Denver and London. Kirsti says these hubs allow people to work in a hybrid way but still allow teams to be connected to the company values.
“Most people work from the office two or three days a week, some less. Some will be out in the regions, but they’ll come together every quarter to a particular location. When we hire people they have to be able to travel to their closest hub. We are not going to hire someone that’s not ever going to be able to come in at least once a quarter. So the company is borderless, but it is quite deliberate and focused on making sure that we can still put emphasis on the culture and bringing everyone together.”
Being able to develop a strong remote working approach has allowed Auror to not just attract talent but also to retain it.
“I think companies need to be exploring how talent moves through their organisation. When you’ve got younger talent looking to do their OE, you need to make sure you’ve got these relationships and connections with them, to allow them to talk to you about those plans and give you the chance to support them. For example, we have got a couple of members of the team that are ready to go overseas. We would love for them to stay at Auror and work from our other locations, so we are working with them on this. It’s about being really open and flexible while still doing what is right for your business.”
Kirsti says having strong remote working policies in place which mirror global trends has also allowed Auror to attract returning Kiwi who might be more used to a remote working environment and want to continue to balance their lifestyle when they return home.
“We’ve seen incredible benefits from hiring Kiwi who have come back to New Zealand. If you’re an international company or you’re exporting then having that returning X Factor is incredible. Hire that person immediately because you’re about to get talent that is familiar with the markets that you’re exporting to but also understands your Kiwi business proposition.”
Above all else, Kirsti says that the key thing for any company looking to fill skill shortages by hiring remotely is to make sure whoever you hire is experienced at working remotely, has a strong and proactive approach to communication, and is going to add to, and enhance your culture.
“For quite a few years now we’ve been working on building our employer brand and making sure that people know Auror as a great place to work and as a place where great people work. We are lucky because our business does have a really positive effect on communities and people get quite excited when they realise the change it’s making. We’ve been really quite deliberate and focused on going out and looking for people who might be the best talent for Auror and then really just building relationships with them and showing that there is a reason why we want them. We have been really fortunate in that we have continued to be able to hire quite effectively. Sometimes things do take a little bit longer and you have to be prepared to wait but it’s been worth it. We’ve been able to get amazing talent and that talent is also diverse, but you have to do the work.”