The coronavirus pandemic has decimated entire industries but it’s also supercharged businesses offering virtual alternatives. Hopin falls into the latter category.
Founded in June 2019, Hopin has quickly become one of Europe’s most valuable startups.
The company, which is a remote-first business, made headlines weeks ago when it closed a $400 million Series C from notable investors including Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst.
Now valued at $5.65 billion, Hopin is home to 400 employees and has hired 50 new people every month over the past few months, Sarah Manning, the firm’s VP of People, told UNLEASH.
Lifting the lid on Hopin’s HR tech
But how is Hopin using HR tech?
“Regarding people, our two biggest systems are our HRIS and our ATS,” Manning said, adding that the business then uses separate tools for managing OKRs, engagement surveys, and analytics.
Finding, investing, and deploying in the right HR technology products can have a profound effect on businesses and the individual within them but when you’re growing at space, the challenges are exponential.
“One of the biggest challenges is investing in tools that will scale with us. We initially invested in tools that worked for smaller organizations. However, as we grew at an unprecedented rate, we quickly realized we needed to invest in the best technologies that could scale with us and support our growth,” Manning added.
“So, at just over a year old, we are reviewing our HR tech stack to ensure we have the right tools that can grow with us. This will likely lead to a changeup for some of the tools that we’re currently using,” Manning continued.
Remote-first: The compliance challenge
Hopin is a remote-first company, employing people across 40 different countries — meaning its HR team is tasked with ensuring hires are compliant.
“Although this is a complex issue, we have developed a purposeful Workforce Location Strategy,” Manning explained.
“Our employment model is a combination of those employed directly by a Hopin entity, those engaged through a Profesional Employer Organization (PEO) and, where appropriate, contractors. The model we adopt in each country depends on the size, scale, and growth plans for that particular jurisdiction,” Manning said adding:
“In terms of technology, our HRIS enables us to closely track and monitor our population growth in each country, which is really important when it comes to determining our engagement model in a country and whether it needs to evolve.”
How to do it properly
Being a remote-first business has never been easier but Manning says clear communication is one of the most important factors in establishing a “well-oiled and happy remote team.”
Companies, she added, must also invest into securing the tools that enable people to stay connected whilst being physically apart. Therefore, determining the comms strategy that will work best for your organization is imperative, she noted.
“Balancing the right amount of asynchronous work with face-to-face meetings can be tricky to navigate. Transparency, clarity of message, and responsiveness become even more important when you are remote,” said Manning.
Aside from investing in technology, Manning highlighted the need for HR professionals to invest in people managers and ensuring they have the support and training they need to be able to manage remote teams.
“Managing people remotely is a different kind of skillset and involves an even higher level of trust. Managers should therefore refrain from micromanaging, and grant greater flexibility to their remote team than they might be used to in traditional settings.
“Preparing and training your people managers to lead remotely will go a long way in ensuring your teams feel engaged, connected and performing at their best,” Manning added.
Fast growth and company culture
Hopin is growing at breakneck speed — and having received funds from VCs, it’s likely under pressure to deliver returns to its investors.
Just yesterday, news broke that Hopin had acquired video hosting provider Streamable and video technology company Jamm in two undisclosed deals. But it’s not the first time the company has snapped up other businesses in the space. It previously bought mobile app maker Topi and video streaming service StreamYard.
So, how do HR professionals within the organization ensure people are not negatively impacted by the speed of growth and the rhythm of acquisitions?
“We are very purposeful in our interview process to make it clear that Hopin is a fast-paced organization with extremely high growth. We pride ourselves on commitment to clear communication, particularly to new employees,” Manning explained.
The business holds an all-hands meeting every week where Johnny Boufarhat (pictured above), the company’s CEO, talks directly to the entire team.
“This ensures the full team knows exactly what is happening across the company and what our areas of focus and priority are for the week. Team meetings and one-to-one’s follow, and are critical to ensuring alignment across the business and that everyone is clear on the part they are playing to contribute to Hopin’s continued success,” Manning continued.
Employee perks in the remote world
The pandemic has had a significant impact on employee perks, with many businesses having to re-think what they offer existing and new hires.
First and foremost, Manning believes organizations need to cover the basics.
“The physical side of a remote-first setup is really important,” she began. “That starts with the laptop and any other IT equipment needed for the job. Employers should then provide an additional allowance for employees to create a home office setup.”
Just because employees are out of sight, it doesn’t mean the usual health and safety considerations don’t apply.
“It’s really important that the health and safety expectations from a regular office are not forgotten when working remotely. Providing ergonomic advice, guidance on setting up a space for a ‘home office’ and funding or reimbursement of office furniture is essential, especially when it comes to the desk and chair someone will be using daily,” Manning said.
It’s also essential that managers remember that people who typically choose remote-first companies are those who enjoy flexible working. Encouraging and supporting flexibility throughout the working week is key, she concluded.
Hopin is quickly absorbing market share in the virtual events space; snapping up talent and competitors. To continue growing at this rate, the company’s leadership needs to ensure they don’t loose sight of their biggest asset, its people, and that the continue to evolve their HR tech stack to meet the ever changing needs of the business.
Yessi Bello Perez is a contributor at UNLEASH. The former editor of UNLEASH, Yessi is a seasoned technology and business journalist passionate about technology, people, and the future of work. She is a regular contributor to Times Radio in the UK. She also co-hosted a podcast for fDi Intelligence (Financial Times) and wrote a column about rising startup ecosystems. Yessi’s work has featured in several other leading publications including the Evening Standard, The Next Web (TNW), and UKTN. She is a sought-after panelist, event host, speaker, and moderator at technology events.