Founder & CEO at Growmotely
I don't find it challenging, I find it way better. I feel like this was my secret weapon. You know, as soon as I discovered remote work, and this idea of empowering and freeing myself and my people and trusting everyone, it's been nothing but goodness, there's really not a downside, in my perspective.
Sarah Hawley is the CEO and Founder of Growmotely, the world's first end-to-end platform that facilitates conscious companies in hiring equally-conscious remote professionals - of all nationalities - into long-term remote jobs. Driven by her passion for the freedom that remote work provides professionals and companies alike, she is trailblazing the space - as a thought leader and creator - where remote work, conscious leadership, and personal and professional growth intersect. Shoestring recognized her as one of the Top Female Entrepreneurs under 40; before Growmotely, she started and successfully sold multiple companies for seven-figure sums. Mother to 1-year-old Luka, and author of the book 'Conscious Leadership: a Journey from Ego to Heart', Sarah is revolutionizing the world of work.
Remote work has become a new normal for many companies and employees alike. Especially with the hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers started exploring new ways of working with their team, and we have seen an incredible uptake in remote work positions.
Sarah Hawley has been an advocate of remote work for many years, and has founded the world’s first ever remote work marketplace with Growmotely in 2020. She is incredibly passionate about the freedom and the opportunities remote work brings about.
In her chat with host Sandra, she talks about what drives her to do the work she does, how she managed the transition from an in-office company to a fully remote business, and how establishing open and transparent communication has helped her and her team to build an amazing company culture and spirit.
with Sarah Hawley, CEO and Founder at Growmotely
Sandra Redlich 01:28
Alright, thanks again for taking the time and joining us today on the State of Work Podcast. Really appreciate your time. Where are you joining from today, Sarah?
Sarah Hawley 01:37
I am in Austin, Texas.
Sandra Redlich 01:40
So just for the listeners maybe with some background information. It's eight in the morning for me. I'm based in Melbourne. And Sarah I think basically, from my perspective, it's yesterday for you.
Sarah Hawley 01:51
Yeah, 5pm Yesterday.How's the future?
Sandra Redlich 01:55
The future is looking pretty gray today. But I'm guessing it's gonna be a bit sunnier over in Texas for you. Well, thanks again, especially with the time difference to make sure we find a time that works for both of us. Maybe to get it started a bit. Can you tell us exactly what you do? And what yeah, what your day to day life looks like?
Sarah Hawley 02:18
Yeah, for sure. Thanks for having me. So I am the founder and CEO of Growmotely, the world's first remote work marketplace. So we help companies all over the world find, hire and retain aligned team members. So really help you build your global team. With a big focus on culture matching and alignment, as I said. I feel like that is kind of the future and what's most important to people when it comes to work these days is people want to work in places where they feel excited and motivated and aligned with what the company is doing. And from a founders perspective, it's ideal to have a team that are engaged and happy and love what you do and how you do it. So that's what Growmotely is all about. I am Australian, as you can probably hear, I've been living in the US since 2016. And I've been a founder since 2009. I've founded a bunch of companies and had three exits. And yeah, I really love being an entrepreneur. I turned all my companies remote in 2014. And that was very transformative for me, the whole journey, going from having an in office team, to a fully remote team, liberating myself and my team members from any kind of location dependence. And also just learning to be a more expensive leader.
Sarah Hawley 03:49
I think remote work kind of unlocks the door to a new way of being and I became very, very passionate about it after my own journey and my team's journey and so in 2019 came up with the idea for Growmotely and we've been working on it ever since. And then obviously with the last two years, the rest of the world is also understanding and experiencing remote work. So it has been excellent timing from that perspective.
Sandra Redlich 04:19
Yeah, seems like the rest of the world has caught up to you the last two years and finally realize the potential that lies in there. That's very interesting to hear that you basically even took your businesses before Growmotely remote. That would be almost eight years ago then I guess. What was the driving factor behind that decision?
Sarah Hawley 04:41
Really, it came down to freedom. Freedom is one of my highest values. And I've always loved to travel and live in other parts of the world and really have been doing that my entire adult life and when I became a founder, some of that adventure kind of ground to a screeching halt, I would say, and I was working long hours in my office. And I mean, that's a little dramatic, I was definitely still traveling, but just nowhere near as much as I wanted. And also, the idea of living in other places felt like it wasn't possible. And then when I really explored that, and I thought, wow, I became an entrepreneur, one of the reasons I became an entrepreneur was because I wanted that level of freedom, I wanted to be kind of the creator of my destiny. And here I am working really long hours in an office and not getting to do the thing I love most in the world, which is travel and, you know, be immersed in other cultures and meeting people from all different walks of life. And so I think I was talking to someone who had hired someone in another country. And I was like... I mean, we would use Upwork, a little bit here and there, or freelancer or something like that for project work. And I just started thinking about it. Well, what if, what if I turned the company remote, and then I could hire people anywhere in the world, and I could be anywhere in the world. And I did want to move to the US, that was already on my radar. So yeah, 2014, I decided to turn the companies remote. And I had a couple of businesses at the time, got rid of the office, did move some of the - we were Melbourne-based, where you are.
Sarah Hawley 06:21
So we had some team members there like a, like a concentration, that's the word I'm looking for. A concentration of team members in Melbourne, so we moved into a co-working space for about a year. And then that was like enough of the transition at that point. They were all like, yeah, I don't really like going even to the co-working space. So I'm happy to work from home now. And, we made that transition. And I moved to the US in 2016, as I said earlier, and it's just been such a great journey ever since. I've had team members... I did I did a quick count the other day. And I did a post on LinkedIn, I think. And it there was about 15 people who I could think of off the top of my head who have worked for me over the years, or worked with me, I should say, but have moved countries at least once. And I'm so proud of that, you know, it's so cool that they're able to move countries move cities, and the job is not even a thought.
Sandra Redlich 07:14
Yeah, that level of freedom, is definitely a whole new, whole new experience. So how did you... How did you start that conversation? I guess it was a thought process that happened within you, just the thought of, I want to be more free. I want to be able to move around and live my life and not be restricted, I should say, in terms of where I work from. But I guess there would have been a conversation to be had with your team members, as you said you had an office and you moved to a co-working space. And then eventually, you decided to go fully remote. So was there little milestone talks or conversations to be had with the team members? And how did they, how did they take that decision?
Sarah Hawley 07:55
Yeah, you're testing my memory here. While it was a while ago, I don't remember the order of events because I do feel like there was an organic unfolding as well. I think it started with hiring Michelle, who is still a dear friend of mine, she became our financial controller, and she was based in the Philippines. And so we were still in our Melbourne offices and I hired Michelle and it was amazing. You know, everyone in the team loved her. She loved them. I actually at the time, spent a lot of time in the Philippines. My uncle lives there. So I went and visited her, we ended up having a team retreat over there, she became really good friends with my COO at the time.
Sarah Hawley 08:37
And so everyone was like, stoked on this idea of bringing in someone from somewhere else. We'd also had an intern in Australia, from Belgium. And Pam, my old CO was from Germany. So we already had like a little bit of diversity in the team from a cultural, like country-based cultural perspective. And, and so yeah, we were enjoying it and then it went so well with Michelle, that we just started new roles. We were hiring. We were just putting them out there. And then I think the office lease came up. So we were like, Okay, well let's move into a co-working space. And I moved to Sydney from Melbourne. So that was kind of like a test, I moved to Sydney for a year before, or maybe it was 18 months, I can't remember, before going to the US. So it was kind of like just this stepping stone. It was like working remote, but feeling like I'm only an hour away on a plane if I needed to.
Sarah Hawley 09:32
And so that was our period of being I guess what you would call hybrid for about a year where we still had that core team and we had the co-working spaces and we had these like satellite team members. But it was a very fluid hybrid environment in that even the team in Melbourne like they didn't really have to go to the office or anything like that. We had the co-working spaces. So I feel like if I remember correctly, I mean we've always had a very open dialogue and open conversations. I don't think that I was as good at that, then as I am now, like I said, I think my journey into remote work and into leadership has drastically evolved since then. So I know how I would handle it now compared to maybe then. I think I was still a little bit more hierarchical, like I was making the decisions for the company and just kind of executing on them. I don't think it was terrible. But I just, I just know how I would handle it now, it's probably a little bit different. But I think, by and large, it was like fairly organic, the way that we transitioned.
Sandra Redlich 10:36
If you look at, because I was checking out, obviously the Growmotely website, before our chat, if you look at the about page, and the team members, I found it really lovely that you not only have a picture and a name and a title, but you also have the location of your team on there. And there's really people from all over the world. So how do you manage working with people who are distributed literally in every corner of the world? I'm talking different time zones and different languages potentially? Or is that the common factor maybe, that you're looking for when you're trying to hire remote workers? How do you manage your team?
Sarah Hawley 11:14
That is a common factor right now. Everybody speaks English. Certainly open to that shifting over time. We're a small-ish team right now. So I don't think it would make sense just yet to have team members who didn't all at least speak one common language. We do have team members that... Like I know Nayeli, who was my assistant, and has now transitioned into account management. She's Spanish speaking, and she's not as fluent in English as she wants to be. So she was really open about that in her application. And one of the reasons why she was excited about the job was to improve her English. I mean, I personally think her English is excellent, but those are her words. So you know, that definitely is the common factor for right now. But we're fully remote, fully distributed, and fully async. So we just work whenever we want to work, you know, there's no... Even within wherever somebody lives, they don't need to work nine to five in their timezone. They can work whatever hours worked best for them. So we do have people, for example, who actually work in their nighttime, because engineers, they like to do that.
Sarah Hawley 12:31
So you know, everybody just kind of works however they want to work. So our main agreement with each other is really, we all want to be part of Growmotely, the vision and the mission feels aligned. And these are our values, which is essentially our ethos, or our culture and how we show up for each other. And outside of that, it's like, I agree to show up as the marketing manager, for example, and be responsible for the marketing activities of the business. And, you know, however, on the company side we're just fully free, like, however you want to do that, then, you know, we support you to work in the way that's best for you. The time of day or the hours or if you want to split your day up into a number of different hours or even your week. I mean, I don't even mind how many days a week people work, like whatever works for them really.
Sandra Redlich 13:23
Yeah. So in terms of working hours, and workplace, is that something that is completely... Something you would bring up during the onboarding process and tell people look, this is how we work and you are free to organize, versus also something that you have in writing in each contract, that you don't have set working hours?
Sarah Hawley 13:43
So we hire everyone through the Growmotely platform and Growmotely takes care of the contract. It's part of the terms of service when you sign up. So essentially, the agreement just briefly is that it's either a full time or a part time workload. And I think it says something like approximately 40 hours a week. Yeah, but we don't track hours, I really don't mind. And if someone is, you know, effective and efficient enough to do it in 30, then I'm like, great. Can you teach us also? Like I don't have any attachment personally to the amount of hours and I think we just keep an open conversation around, like, is this genuinely a full time workload? Or are you... do you have more free time? That's actually what happened with my personal assistant Nayeli. It wasn't a full time workload for her. And so we had a chat. And she was like, you know, I'd really love to move into account management. I have a background in HR. So she still does a little bit of assistant work for me, but mostly, you know, spends her days in account management. So that was a transition that we made based on the fact that it was a new role. I wasn't sure what the workload would be and it turned out it wasn't full time.
Sarah Hawley 14:56
And likewise, if somebody's workload is increasing dramatically, then, you know, we are just having a conversation around, do we need to hire someone else to support you or whatever. But yeah, essentially, it's very fluid and flexible, we have unlimited leave as well. So people are able to take as much or as little leave as they like. The idea with that is as long as you're getting your responsibilities done over the year or whatever, it doesn't really matter, if you're able to organize yourself to take time off. Obviously, you can't go on leave forever, because then you're breaching the part of the agreement that says that you will get the job done. But essentially, we all help each other out. If somebody needs to take a week off or wants to take a week off or a couple of days or a few weeks, or whatever it is, we kind of figure out, hey, can you do this for me? Can you do that, for me, I'm not gonna be available for this, and we just communicate really effectively. And then it's kind of an honor system. And it's worked really well. So far, I've done that in my past two companies and never had any problems with it.
Sarah Hawley 15:55
I still think it's really important to have time off regularly. And we talk about that a lot as a team. Just making sure at least once a quarter you're getting, you know, even a long weekend or four days or something in a row, just really switch off and then maybe later take a bigger break. But just making sure that regularly we are all having a little bit of downtime, especially in a startup. Very passionate, very fast paced.
Sarah Hawley 15:55
So I've really found, the more trust that I can extend to my team, the more they value and respect that and show up for that trust. And it goes both ways. I mean, I'm under the same kind of agreement as they are, if I take time out, I communicate with them, I figure out who needs to cover me if there's things that need to be attended to while I'm away. And, you know, it also gives people that freedom to maybe like, I remember Apple, who's our financial controller, she wanted to go to Japan to do this six week dance course thing. And she went and she still worked her job, she just worked in the evenings after the course. And she was maybe like a little lighter on in terms of availability for that six weeks. But ultimately, she still got her job done. So it didn't really matter. So it also gives people that option to like, travel a lot more, Jess, who's our partnerships manager, has just gone to Europe from the US and she's going to be there, I don't know, for the next six months, or who knows, maybe even longer, but she'll be traveling to different countries, and she's still going to be working. So I think even our needs when it comes to holidays or vacation shift, when you're in a remote perspective. When you're having to go to an office every day, and you only have two weeks a year in the US or four weeks here in Australia, you know, it becomes so much more like pent up to get that two weeks. But if you're able to be wherever you want to be and do a bit of work, while you're there, you know, you have a lot more freedom, a lot more flexibility to build things.
Sandra Redlich 17:50
Yeah. It sounds like you have a fairly close relationship with your team members, and that you're having very open conversations and good interaction. So how do you manage to achieve that when you said before that you're completely async? So that means you're not... You don't have to communicate kind of at the same time? I'm guessing you're using digital channels for communication or do you have set dates, maybe once a month or something, where you catch up on a phone call or video call? How do you manage communication?
Sarah Hawley 18:22
Yeah, and sorry, I didn't fully answer that before. But that's a good point. Like even though we're async, we're always communicating. So we use Basecamp, for all of our kind of everyday communication about really everything. There's obviously certain tools in the business, like the marketing and sales team use HubSpot, and the devs use GitHub and stuff. But the kind of commonality among the whole company is that we use Basecamp. So that's where we would communicate everything that we're doing everything. We're working on posting updates, a lot of working documents in there and things that we're actually building before they go live in whatever format they're going in.
Sarah Hawley 18:57
And I mean, we do have some meetings. So when I say we're fully async, I don't mean that, yeah, we never ever see each other. We have one all company meeting every single month that goes for 90 minutes. And we ask that everyone attends that. And that's the one commitment that's kind of not async, that we ask everyone to make. And for some people it is not the best time. We do our best to put it into time but we're fully distributed. So the reality is it's going to be at an awkward time but it's only once a month and that's the way we look at it is like I can trade 90 minutes in an awkward time for the fact that I get freedom every other minute of my my year. So far everybody seems to be happy with that. Within different teams, they have, like, the systems engineering team have a daily huddle where they get together. I think they've just reduced that down from five days to two and then they do the other three days via like a text format.
Sarah Hawley 19:58
Our leadership team meet weekly. So different teams will have their own meeting cadence. And that's up to them to just decide and determine. We talk a lot on voice notes as well. So that's a way for lots and lots of fluid, ongoing async conversations, particularly me with my leadership team, like, I'll always be brainstorming different things with my head of marketing, or my ops manager, or whatever it is. And we could be having an ongoing conversation for several days, that's consisting of a bunch of five minute, eight minute, ten minute voice notes, and I really find voice notes to be a super effective tool for properly, like flushing out something and having a conversation, potentially, before you commit an idea to paper so to speak.
Sandra Redlich 20:45
Yeah. Do you have any set rules for availability, because I can imagine it can be hard sometimes when you are receiving a message or a voice note, just an alert on one of your communication channels. And that might be in your evening time or in your morning time. And I know from own experience, it is very tempting to reply. Oh, I'm getting them at the same time, and I'm gonna get a quick response, or they're waiting, like, if I can give them a quick response, just gonna make the turnaround a bit quicker. Do you talk to your team about what you expect in terms of availability and response times?
Sarah Hawley 21:26
So essentially, the way we look at it is, we're very big advocates for personal sovereignty and personal responsibility. So individuals need to determine when they are available, and hold themselves to it. As a company grows, and like every person you add in, you know, the level of complexity is evolving. And to be able to remember how everybody likes to work and when you can ping someone when you can't, I think is too much responsibility to put on others. And the simple solution is if I, for example, my nanny is away this week. And so I'm looking after my son in the mornings, so that my husband can do his work in the morning, and then he'll be taking him in the evenings. So I communicate that to my team, especially that because it's a shift, it's not my everyday thing. But they just know that I will get back to them, I'll be more likely to be online, you know, in the afternoon. So we communicate key things where something might have shifted, we sometimes do let people know if like, Hey, I'm not going to be... I'm going to take some time for myself at the moment, I'm going to be really strict on like not answering my phone after 6pm at night, I just want to let you know. But generally speaking, I think it's, it's really something that we just talk openly about having those boundaries. And the reality is like I while I'm looking after Luka are in the mornings, also might want to wake up early, like say, five, four or five am and do an hour or two before he wakes up. Now I want to be free to just do whatever work I need to do send it all off to everybody who it might get sent to and not have to worry that somebody else and what time it might be for them and they might feel pressure.
Sarah Hawley 23:17
So we do really talk a lot about it doesn't matter who it is coming from in the business, like you hold your boundary and your responsibility of when you reply. My team will know though, for this week, if they really need to get me if something's really urgent to text me instead of putting it in Basecamp. So sometimes we have things like that. But quite frankly, in my experience, it's quite rare that something is that urgent, because we work async all the time. And everything is in that natural flow where you know, the way that we work is like, Okay, well the thing is, we want to have this thing done by Friday the 15th or whatever. Like we're working away on it until that date. So it shouldn't be that on Friday the 15th, we're like urgently trying to ping each other to get something done. And we do have like crescendos in terms of our energy. When we hosted our Align summit earlier this year, for example. And we had this three day Summit. Obviously for those three days, there are a lot of people that were a lot online, a lot of time during those three days, working way more and different hours than they normally would. There was a lot more messaging and can you help me out with this? Oh, my gosh, this isn't working like, you know, but that's not every day. That's just something that and that was the events team that were kind of operating in that way for those days, but they knew that was coming. So yeah, generally speaking, it's just a lot about personal boundaries and holding yourself to that.
Sandra Redlich 24:49
How do you manage to, or it sounds like you have an amazing team spirit going on then and a great baseline trust and communication among your team members. What do you do, or what are your tips and thoughts on creating a good team spirit, a good team experience for everyone, when you can't physically socialize because your team is distributed, or it's harder to get everyone into the same, even the same zoom channel?
Sarah Hawley 25:20
Yeah, I'm glad you asked this question. And I think we are a shining example of why remote work can and does work really well. My team are unbelievable, the friendships that exist, the teamwork, the bonding, it's all very, very high, like I would challenge any company to have a better culture than what we have, really. And I'm not saying there are not other companies with incredible cultures. But I know we are up there as one of the best. And the reality is we started in 2020, most of us have never met in person.
Sarah Hawley 25:57
But we work together all the time, we spend time together in different formats all of the time. So I don't, I think we discredit the fact that we have been building relationships online for probably 15 years now really effectively, since social media first started, and especially those of us who travel like yourself, who are maybe living in places where you're not from, or what have you, like, we're actually really a lot better at it than we realized, and it does translate quite well into the working environment, or very well for us. So it hasn't, it hasn't really been a problem. But I would suggest and I don't think this is any different for in office. But having a clear understanding of what your culture actually is, as a business, what you stand for, what your values or ethos, or whatever language you want to use to describe it. But it's essentially, I think of the values as the culture, like this is our agreement, this is how we're going to show up for each other. So one of ours is transparency and candor, for example. So we always have transparent, open conversations about everything that's going on in the business, all meetings at Growmotely are open, so anyone can join and observe any other team's meetings, that was a decision we made early on, including the leadership team. So there's really no meetings that are happening behind closed doors, so you can drop in and listen to anybody's meeting any time. The only rule is that you don't interrupt. And there's usually five minutes at the end, if there is any observers on where we say, does anyone have any questions, anything you want to add, that's just to not disturb the meeting flow and the cadence of what the team kind of usually do what have you. But that really keeps us to a high standard of integrity, keeps us really thinking about the fact that everything is transparent, everything is open. So let's communicate in a way that honors that.
Sarah Hawley 27:57
So really living by your values. And I think the most important thing is to be intentional, to define them, to talk about them with your team. So every month in the all company meeting, we share values stories, so everybody in the company can just share stories of were either a customer or partner or anyone in our actual team, anyone really has lived an example of one of our values, and that helps us all kind of honor each other and also just remind ourselves of what it looks like to actually be living out that value.
Sarah Hawley 28:32
And so being intentional, creating those values, communicating them regularly, and then holding ourselves to them, you know, as leaders, we better believe that we are living those values to the best of our ability. And if we mess up own it, you know, it doesn't mean we don't mess up but don't pretend that you didn't. Just own it, because the way I see the values or the ethos or the culture is like a guiding post, like a center. So yeah, occasionally we go off center, you know, we start to veer off, we don't see something, we have a blind spot. And then someone says hey, like, I'm not sure that's in line with our values and you're like oh, yeah, you're right. Okay, let's come back. So they're a guiding post to bring us back to center, they're not a judgment tool or you know, something that has to be perfect, too. I remember Cass, my ops manager, saying I just kept coming in on top of something she was trying to work on.
Sarah Hawley 29:34
You know, as a control freaky entrepreneur founder sometimes can. And she one day she was just like, Sarah, like, you talk about empowerment. That's one of our values. This does not feel empowering. I'm like shit, I'm sorry. You're right. And then I like had a chance to go and sit with myself and say, Why am I being so controlling over that thing? Like why am I up in her face about it? Why am I not just letting her do it? And you know, maybe it really comes down to me feeling valid or feeling worthy. And I can't remember right now what the example was. But then in the next all company meeting or leadership meeting, I can't remember, I shared it with everyone like, hey, like, this is what I was doing to Cass, and she called me on it. And she's right, like, empowerment and ownership is one of our values. And if I'm ever making you not feel empowered, and like you own your role, we need to talk about why. And, you know, if it turns out that you're not showing up and you're not owning it, then maybe that's work that you need to do. And if it turns out that I'm, or someone else, is crushing your spirit and getting it all up in your face and micromanaging you then, you know, and maybe it's somewhere in between, or a bit of both, but like, what we have to work toward on both sides is empowerment and ownership, because that's the core value. And that's how we've all agreed to show up for each other.
Sarah Hawley 30:51
So, I think really just staying true to those values and acknowledging when we've gone off course, and just bring ourselves back to center as quickly as possible. And by doing that we build a lot of trust as a team, not just in the leadership, but everybody. We build a lot of trust in each other that yeah, I'm not perfect, but I am committed, I did agree to this way of being.
Sandra Redlich 31:15
Yeah. Is that you guess one of the biggest challenges that you've experienced in your time as having several remote businesses? Just trying to figure out a way to efficiently work together? Has there been other challenges, that you can think of, that you had to overcome?
Sarah Hawley 31:36
I mean, honestly, like, I don't find it challenging, I find it way better. I always have I feel like, this was like my secret weapon. You know, as soon as I discovered remote work, and this idea of empowering and freeing myself and my people and trusting everyone, it's been nothing but goodness, like there's really not a downside, in my perspective. And I'm biased toward it for sure. Because I just absolutely love it. And it's been incredible for us. I mean, I guess you could argue that, yeah, I would love to see my team more in person. And we've just come out of two years of a global pandemic. So that's really the reason why I haven't seen my team members in person. It's not because we're a remote team, we have a plan to bring the whole company together at least once a year. And we haven't been able to do that. And I still don't know when we will. Because not everybody's you know, country, everybody's borders are not open and things like that. So, you know, we're working towards that as soon as we can. But that would be something that I really look forward to. And I've done that previously, when pre-pandemic I've brought teams, the whole team together in my previous companies, and it was wonderful.
Sarah Hawley 32:49
So I think it's interesting, because we're in a weird time right now, where this is not the remote work world that I entered. However, what's cool now is everybody's on the same page with remote work. So it's a lot more exciting for the world generally now. And things are opening up again, which is amazing. But I really, I really don't find there to be any challenges with it. You know, I guess , yeah, at times, it could be like, Oh, I'd really like Apple, my financial controller is based in the Philippines and that the time zone for me and her is pretty opposite. So we don't get to talk, actually talk as much. And so we don't get as much crossover, like on a zoom call or whatever, just because the time doesn't work out. So yeah, I mean, it's a little bit annoying, but it's not annoying enough for me to need to change it. You know what I mean? Like, we still voice note, we send each other videos, we still get it done. So I really, I don't find it to be that difficult. And we're at the furthest end of the spectrum where we're in all the different time zones fully distributed, fully async. I mean, there's lots of different ways to do remote and some companies choose to kind of at least roughly stay on the same time zone. And when we were earlier on, Growmotely's first six-ish months, we stayed in the Americas and the Euro-Africa timezone so that we only had two kind of time zones to manage. And now that we're bigger, we've gone into the APAC timezone, and now it's just everywhere. But yeah, and that was effective for like our small lean team who were working really hard and fast to bring our product to the market once our product went live. And we got into revenue and the team started expanding and growing that didn't feel like as important.
Sandra Redlich 34:42
Maybe just one of the final questions diving into the legal aspects of working with a remote team. So how does it work for you? How do you hire people all over the world legally and make sure that you comply with the local labor laws they are subject to in their place of residence?
Sarah Hawley 35:03
So Growmotely uses an independent contractor model. And so we use our own product as well to hire people. So everyone on the platform, when they've joined, has signed up to be an independent contractor, and that they will be responsible for their own setting, however they want to do it, setting up themselves at the company, or whatever is the best thing for them to do in their location and to pay their own taxes. Obviously, they then have freedom to move around. We have more nomadic people. And whatever they like.
Sandra Redlich 35:35
Sarah Hawley 35:36
Yeah. We're huge advocates for the freedom and literally every single person in your whole company is an independent contractor. And that's, you know, these are just definitions that the old world has given us: employment employee, and contractor and all of these different terms. But yeah, as we enter the new world, I think employment work, whatever we want to call it, really starts to change. And what we're looking at is finding the best people on earth to come together for whatever that particular company is, whatever they stand for, whatever they're trying to achieve. I mean, we have the opportunity now to find the people, we could be a five person, small company, but we've got the five best people from all over the world who really care about that thing, and who want to show up in that way.
Sarah Hawley 36:25
But just allowing them to do it in the way that works best for them. And we don't need all of these layers of complexity that the old world kind of has created that was very related to, you know, me being let's say, I live in Austin, Texas, let's say the company was a Texas company, I was hiring all the Texas people then you know, great, like, it makes sense for the local government to be involved in that. But once we get into this global cross border situation, I think we can really reduce the complexity of employment, which can really help out the company side as well. Because this small, we work with small businesses, smaller growing companies, and just keeping that layer of complexity down, they don't have the resources to be able to cover the costs of all of the complexity that can come with even local employment.
Sandra Redlich 37:17
Yeah. That's a great segway into my last question. You're talking about the old world, and basically, how it's been and how it's changing at the moment, I think it's a really pivotal time for new work and all of these different ways of establishing a working culture. So what do you see, or where do you see the future of work developing int? What do you want to see?
Sarah Hawley 37:44
I am so excited about this moment in time, about this ability and this opportunity to redefine how we experience this thing called work. And what I hope for the future, and what we have created at Growmotely, so I know it is possible, is a world where people are truly in their genius. So they are now doing work in the world that matters to them, that makes their heart sing, that lights their soul on fire. And they're doing it from wherever they are, which means they've built their lifestyle in a way that also lights them on fire and makes their heart sing. So much of the way work has been has been: I live in this city, because this is where the opportunities are, I need the opportunity so I can get a paycheck, so that I can then do things outside of work that I enjoy. Or, you know, in the really sad case, I need the paycheck so that when I'm 60 I can retire and then finally do the things that I enjoy. Yeah, that sucks. And I think where we're at, at this point with technology and the internet, and the fact that many, many, many, many, many jobs are knowledge jobs, and they're able to be done online. And I fully understand, you know, for those listening, that there are still jobs that require people to go to them. And that's just not the space that I'm in. And what I'm excited about is for all of those knowledge workers out there to be able to do that from wherever they are, create their life however they are and also be brave enough to do the thing that you love, not the thing that school and conditioning told you was the good degree to get to get the good job, to get the good paycheck, like really freeing us up to say, I mean, honestly, I could talk about this for ages but I think like university degrees are pretty outdated at this point in time and I've always been a big believer that following your passion and following the things that you love, will, you know, the money and all the abundance and prosperity will come from that. And that's just been a lot harder. I mean, if we even think about the way cities are built, there's certain areas where that's where you should be.
Sarah Hawley 39:56
Like, New York is a finance hub, so lots and lots of people who live in New York work in finance. And if you want to be in entertainment, you move to LA. And if you want to be in high tech, you move to San Francisco just to use some US centric examples. But now, you can be anything from anywhere. And that's just so beautiful. So I think it's work life integration. And the other element and aspect of it is this empowerment and personal sovereignty. So the overlay that I get really excited about, is the relationship that companies and people have, old leaders and their people have, where it's one that's, and the way I see it is I'm the leader of Growmotely, so I'm the CEO. So I'm in charge of vision strategy. So I'm in charge of making sure we kind of keep our eye on where we're going. And then I navigate the path. But I can't do that without everybody else doing all of their bits to give me the information. So I'm, being the leader does not place me above or as a boss, it has a set of roles and responsibilities that I'm fulfilling, that are equally as important as everybody else's. And I think it's just such a more beautiful way to work, where we strip away the hierarchy, and we work in more of a synergy arrangement, where we're allowing things to more organically, kind of, and I think a lot of people think the opposite of hierarchy is anarchy, you know, chaos, and it's not. It's kind of just this organic, symbiotic happening, and hierarchy can still rise around some momentum, you know, someone can still take the lead and say, Oh, we've all got to rally to get this thing done. But it's not an everyday thing, like I'm the boss, do what I say every single day, I'm gonna come in and direct people everywhere, like. It's also like, it's not a very nice way to lead like, is very stressful.
Sarah Hawley 40:00
And the kind of dynamic that that creates between people is based on a very old system. And it's a power dynamic, where there's a belief that power is finite. And if I have it, you don't, and if you have it, I don't. And I really like to think more of this infinite potential and infinite possibility and infinite power, more from a place of empowerment. If I'm empowered, and all of my team are empowered, as individuals, we are a stronger organization, for sure, like, far and away. And so that's what I see for the future, is empowered individuals coming together. And people who are responsible for themselves who are, as I said, in power, they're sovereign. And so they're not looking to organizations to kind of provide for them in a caretaking type of way. And we're not even... that extends then out to the governments and all of that, because we're empowered, we can take care of ourselves, it's a much better way to live. And we can still have agreements with each other, we can have boundaries, we can have benefits, and perks and all of that kind of thing that are based on alignment. But it's not this you owe me. You owe me. You owe me. Which is really a large way our current, or old systems have been built off. It's very transactional, and very, who owes who what and competing on things that the only thing we really need to be competing on, it's not actually a competition is alignment. So if this company is the best place for this person to work, they didn't win, so to speak, because this company will find their best person who wants to work best in that environment.
Sarah Hawley 43:51
So yeah, it's a long answer to where I see the future. But, I mean, that's why I do what I do every day, because I want... my life is so, so so good. You know, I love my life, I've worked very hard. And don't get me wrong, I still have the usual human experience where I'm in the shit sometimes, and it's up and down. And I feel all the range of emotions and all of that, but, you know, I live in the place I want to live in. I have great community around me, I spend every day at home with my baby son, and my husband. And I do work that I absolutely love, that lights my soul on fire. I travel whenever I want to, you know, all of those things are available to everyone. Now, they used to only be available to entrepreneurs, it was only really entrepreneurs who could take a little bit more control and a little bit more charge of things and I'm so excited for a future in a world where everyone can find out what it is that will make them most happy and move toward it every single day.
Sandra Redlich 44:55
Yeah. Well, thank you so much for taking us into the world of Growmotely. I think it 100% comes across the kind of passion and team spirit you have and the communication skills you have or friendship with your team. And it's really inspiring to listen to and see how you've managed to build that and how you continue to learn and how you continue to drive that dream for the future and dream for the now forward. So thanks very much for taking the time and sharing your experience and your work with our listeners today.
Sarah Hawley 45:37
Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you for having me and enjoy my hometown there down in Melbourne.
Sandra Redlich 45:43
I will, as you said, now, with the borders opening, it's definitely going to be a new era of remote work. But with all the freedoms that we were looking for, yes, very much looking forward to that.
Sarah Hawley 45:57
Sorry, I'll just finish with about a year into the pandemic. And people were saying, Oh, this is terrible, this remote work, this work from home remote work thing, and people are so depressed. And this is no way to live. And I was like, Yeah, this is not what remote work is. This is a pandemic, we're stuck in our homes. It's definitely no way to live. But this is not what remote work usually looks like, you know, and I think people are really starting to get a taste of it now. It's exciting.
Sandra Redlich 46:25
Yeah, that's very true. Where can people find you just maybe at the end? Where and how can people connect with you and where can they see the work you are doing?
Sarah Hawley 46:34
Yeah, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. And obviously growmotely.com, we would love to welcome you into our community. If you're a company looking to build a team, get registered. And if you're a professional looking for that dream job, then please get registered. Koko, our community guide, would love to help you set up your profile and all the good things. But yeah, you'll find me around the place for sure. LinkedIn is a good place to connect with me.
Sandra Redlich 46:59
Yeah. Awesome. We'll make sure to put all these links into our show notes. And yeah, well, it was lovely talking to you. Thanks again for taking the time, especially in your evening. I'm sure you're getting ready to switch off for the day and enjoy the Texas evening. And I'm sure we will be in touch and yeah, maybe in a year or so catch back up and see where remote work has taken us.
Sarah Hawley 47:25
Oh, that sounds great.
Sandra Redlich 47:29
Thank you, Sarah.
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