1. About remote work

You’re probably well aware of remote work and how widespread it is becoming in recent years. Not only are employees increasingly looking for remote roles, but more and more companies are looking to hire remotely because of the many benefits of this way of doing work. We’ll discuss some of those benefits later on, but first, let’s get something important out of the way – what remote work really is.

Before deciding to hire remotely, you need to be aware of the many ways to work remotely. Here are the most prominent.

Fully remote – these companies don’t have an office at all and they hire independently of the location. You can choose to hire from a single country, time zone or continent or open the role to the entire world. The broader you go, the more applicants you will attract. This model brings certain challenges (communication, time zones, meetings…) but it is as remote as it gets.

Remote first – these companies have physical headquarters but the majority of employees work remotely. They can (but don’t have to) visit the office. Major benefits include the ability to choose one of the two options, as well as having a central hub to socialize and have meetings. It is crucial not to judge employees who decide not to visit the office, though.

Remote-friendly – these are traditional companies that allow remote work on a case-to-case basis. For a set number of days per week, employees can work remotely. Companies that work in this way don’t have structured systems for remote work, but of the three groups mentioned here, they are the most numerous.

On a scale of remote-ness, fully remote is the ideal end goal for companies because it allows hiring the best talent in the job market. On the other hand, remote-friendly is the least remote option, but many companies start out this way to test the waters.

Why remote work is so important for job seekers?

With the expansion of remote work, more employees want to ditch the office lifestyle. The ability to work remotely is becoming one of the deciding factors for candidates to choose your company. According to Stack Overflow, working remotely is the fifth most important job factor for developers, ranking higher than the type of industry, the diversity of the team, the impact of the developers’ work and many other factors.

Another research by HackerRank shows that work-life balance is the most important perk for attracting developers in recent years. It ranks higher than professional growth, compensation, the type of team, company culture, tech stack and many other factors that were a priority until the advent of remote work.

In other words, if you want to make your company attractive to great talent, your first order of business is to work and hire remotely.

Our journey

Toggl is an Estonian-based SaaS company that initially started as time tracking software. Over time, two sister companies were created, Teamweek (now Toggl Plan) for project management and Hundred5 (now Toggl Hire) as a hiring tool for remote employees.

Compared to most of today’s startups, Toggl is a dinosaur. Launched in 2006 by Ahti Aho, Alari Aho and Krister Haav, the company was based in Estonia up until 2014. At that point, Toggl opened its doors to remote employees, for several reasons.

First, there were practical reasons. Estonia is a fairly small country, with only 1.3 million inhabitants. At the same time, it’s a hotbed for startups and finding qualified IT talent became almost impossible – there are only so many developers per square kilometer. Offering relocation was an option, but that still limited Toggl to those people who wanted to move to Estonia. We could open some more offices, but those too would be location-specific and limit us to talent from a certain area. To sum up, we wanted the best people, no matter where they lived in the world.

On the flip side, we also wanted to have a more diverse team. We wanted Toggl to have better and more flexible conditions for its employees. Finally, we wanted to be seen as a desirable employer.

Since we made the switch to remote work, Toggl has grown considerably. We went from 20 people living in Estonia to more than 100 people living in more than 30 countries across the world.

Our aim (at Toggl Hire specifically) is to help more companies find and hire remote talent across continents, countries, and timezones.