4 min read

How to Drive Startup Growth With a Mobile Workforce (Tips for Founders)


Jemima Owen-Jones


February 22, 2024

Last Update

July 04, 2024

Table of Contents

Benefits of a mobile workforce for startups

How startups can build a mobile workforce

Develop a global hiring strategy

How startups can manage and sustain a mobile workforce

Get insights into your workforce

Build your mobile workforce with Deel

Key takeaways
  1. Adopting a remote business model can help startups drive sustainable growth, build resilience, and stay agile in a competitive landscape.
  2. A mobile workforce allows them to manage international talent and expand into new markets with less financial risk.
  3. Our article explores the best strategies for supporting remote distributed teams with a global HR platform like Deel.

Most startups have shifted away from the traditional office environment to a remote business model. According to a recent study, 56% don’t even have a physical location. 

A mobile workforce gives startups the agility and the resilience they need to grow in a competitive environment. They can tap into a wider talent pool and move into foreign markets without straining their limited tools and resources. Without the need for physical offices, they can also reduce overhead costs and allocate more funds to core business operations.

In this article, we’ll explore how to build, manage, and support a mobile workforce with a consolidated all-in-one HR solution like Deel. Continue reading to discover the benefits and best practices of this approach.

Benefits of a mobile workforce for startups

By embracing global mobility, you can optimize business performance and avoid many of the pitfalls of managing an on-site team. Here are some of the main advantages of a mobile workforce:

  • Access to a wider talent pool: There’s currently a skills shortage with one in five small businesses saying quality of labor is their biggest challenge. When you’re not restricted by location, you can access a wider variety of candidates and fill specialist roles more easily
  • Further global expansion: A mobile workforce enables you to capitalize on opportunities in foreign markets. Instead of spending time and money setting up office spaces, you can hire remote workers within these countries
  • Improved agility: When you have customers across different countries, you can diversify your revenue streams
  • Reduced overhead costs: Remote teams require less space than full-time office workers, which lowers your expenses and increases your budget for expansion. One study estimated that employers save $11,000 (USD) per employee per year just by implementing a hybrid policy
  • Higher recruitment and retention: 63% of workers would accept a pay cut to keep working from home. Given that startups can’t always match the salaries of large corporations, offering remote work could help give you a competitive edge
  • Better customer experiences: If your team works across different countries and timezones, they can be available 24/7 and offer specialized service to different markets
  • Increased productivity: Remote employees can work at a time and in a space that suits their needs, which advances output and leads to higher engagement levels

How startups can build a mobile workforce

Although many startups adopt a remote business model by default, you’re more likely to see results if you’re intentional about your hiring strategy. In this section, we look at the best ways to attract talent and grow your mobile workforce:

Adopt a work from anywhere policy

A work from anywhere (WFA) policy allows employees to perform their jobs from any location worldwide for a set time. Workers can be based in one country but travel frequently.

Implementing a comprehensive WFA policy lets you demonstrate your positive stance on remote work and set guidelines for employees. Both are essential for creating a sustainable remote business model.

By having a WFA policy, you show your commitment to a remote business model. The policy advertises to workers that you won’t suddenly revoke flexible working arrangements in favor of physical offices as your startup becomes more established. You’ll be more likely to attract top talent and retain employees who prioritize flexible working arrangements.

If employees feel more secure about your arrangement, they may be more likely to report relocations. Surveys found that 28% of teams work away from home but only a third tell HR, leading to compliance issues. For example, if employees spend too long in specific countries, there’s a risk of permanent establishment. 

A structured WFA policy can give employees a clear understanding of their flexibility, including when and how to report relocations. Download our Guide to Work From Anywhere Schemes for tips on how to write a policy that suits your startup.

Develop a global hiring strategy

Knowing where to look for talent can help you plug skills gaps while sticking to your hiring budget. You can increase your headcount and establish your global presence, enabling you to compete with larger organizations without their tools and resources.

You can start by analyzing the specific skills you need to drive early and sustained growth. You should consider your development stage and your future goals.

Then you can research different locations to look for emerging hubs with lower salary thresholds. You can take advantage of the blend of affordability and skills. As a startup, you’re less likely to outbid large organizations in competitive talent hotspots in North America and Europe.

For example, Deel has found that Latin America is one of the fastest-growing hiring regions. Companies added 1.5 times more contracts for Columbian workers in 2023 than the year before.

To discover hot talent markets before they become saturated, download the Deel State of Global Report 2023.

Leverage contract workers

Using freelancers can help you maintain a tight labor cost percentage as you scale up and down. You can hire contractors on a project-by-project basis, so you only pay for the team you need. You’re also not required to pay for overhead expenses like healthcare benefits and time off.

As there are over 150 million freelancers online, there’s a wide talent pool to choose from. You’re sure to find workers that match project requirements, fit your schedule, and suit your hiring budget.

However, hiring contractors comes with a risk of misclassification. Many jurisdictions impose harsh fines on businesses that categorize freelancers as contractors, accidentally or not. With misclassification penalties reaching as much as $1000 per worker, startups may struggle to absorb the costs.

We’ve introduced Deel Shield to help companies hire contractors compliantly. Our expert team helps you classify your workforce, develop contracts that meet local regulations, and manage documentation. As we accept the legal liability, we’re also responsible for any fines.

Use an employer of record (EOR) to explore new markets

An EOR service can help you avoid the risk of permanent establishment that comes with global expansion. You remain free to explore foreign markets without requiring the capital to establish a legal entity in each new location.

Permanent establishment happens when local authorities determine that you have a steady presence within their jurisdiction. You’re then subject to double taxation for as long as you remain in the country. Hiring workers abroad is one of the factors that can trigger permanent establishment.

An EOR service like Deel can hire and pay employees on your behalf to eliminate this risk. We act as the legal employer and assume all liability while you maintain control over the workforce. EORs can have entities across multiple locations—for example, Deel has a presence in over 115 countries worldwide.

Learn how Taiwanese e-bike company, Keego, doubled its clients and tripled its revenue growth after using Deel’s EOR service.

We are hiring based on finding the right people, not finding the right location that people happen to be in. I can’t imagine having to open up an entity in a certain city just to be able to hire someone. Deel solves a real problem, and up to now, we’ve been very happy with the service.

Elias Ek,

Co-Founder, Keego

How startups can manage and sustain a mobile workforce

A comprehensive mobile workforce management strategy is vital for sustainable business growth and a strong ROI.

Startups need to make every employee count due to their limited resources. However, it’s easy to end up with bloated HR and finance departments when you need to manage dispersed workers. The alternative is overwhelming small, unqualified teams with day-to-day compliance management and risking errors and penalties.

You can maintain a tight labor cost percentage while supporting your remote workforce with an all-in-one HR platform like Deel. Let’s explore how all our features help you achieve this below:

Consolidate your operations

Centralizing business functions allows you to allocate tools and resources more effectively. Instead of managing HR, payroll, and recruitment for various locations, you can have one unified approach.

As a result, startup founders can easily manage operations with a small team rather than investing in HR and payroll departments before they’re ready.

As you grow your workforce, you need to prioritize roles that are critical for early success. You may not have the capacity to hire staff to handle payments in various currencies and research all the relevant tax and legal frameworks for each country. 

Managing disparate payroll and HR platforms is also inefficient and resource-intensive. You not only have to pay for all these tools but also the time spent transferring and cross-checking data between them.

A consolidated global HR and payroll solution like Deel lets you manage all these processes in one place. Deel supports payments in multiple currencies and lets you manage them right there on the platform. We also provide guidance on local labor laws to help you stay compliant in every area you hire from.

Download Deel’s The Case for Global Payroll Consolidation to learn more about how centralizing operations can benefit your startup.

Invest in the right technology

Automation tools can allow you to maintain a lean team as you prioritize key roles and grow your workforce. You can streamline HR, payroll, and workflows so you can manage them effectively without dedicated departments. 

For example, Deel allows you to automate a range of HR processes:

  • Background checks: Deel runs candidates through its AI-powered screening tools—all you have to do is submit their information

  • Onboarding: You can set up rules and triggers for new hires to create an automated onboarding process. Workers can receive the relevant training materials and user access as they perform tasks and hit milestones

  • Data management: Using self-service features, employees can input and manage their own data. Deel automatically updates the system and allows you to check

  • Payroll: Our technology can auto-calculate wages and tax withholding for your entire workforce. After you’ve reviewed the payroll data, we can then transfer the payments

  • Benefits enrolment: Employees can choose the plans they want to join, and Deel automatically enrolls them

  • Time and attendance tracking: Workers complete a form which Deel then sends to all the relevant parties for confirmation, saving you time on coordination

Startups can automate a variety of processes, from HR and payroll to communication and accounting. That’s why it’s critical to choose platforms that can sync with a variety of essential business management tools. Deel offers many popular integrations as well as a robust API so you can transfer data and perform tasks seamlessly across all your different tools.

Ensure global compliance and data security

As your startup continues to hire abroad, you need to stay compliant with local and international regulations. Otherwise, you can incur costly fines that cut into your expansion budget and damage employee trust. 

The main obstacle is staying updated with complex, ever-changing tax and labor laws as you increase your headcount and relocate workers. Startups don’t usually have the resources to hire accountants and lawyers for each region, but you need this specialist knowledge to hire and relocate compliantly.

This challenge is compounded by the need to integrate each worker following stringent data guidelines like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As you hire in more countries, you create more remote access points to your system via the Cloud. Again, you might not have the budget to hire cybersecurity experts or invest in robust software.
Outsourcing to a global HR provider like Deel can help you stay secure and compliant while conserving your strategic resources. We craft localized contracts for overseas workers and collect their supporting documents. If paperwork is approaching its expiry date, you get automatic notifications.

Deel stores all these files using TLS 1.2 encryption at rest and AES-256 encryption during transfers. We offer single-sign-on and user permissions so you can control exactly who has access to this information.

To help you stay proactive about compliance, Deel sends you simplified, real-time updates about upcoming changes to relevant laws. You can learn about anything that could affect your startup in minutes instead of hours.

Software startup, oVice reduced compliance management tasks by 40% using Deel.

Now, if we find someone great in Australia for example, we can hire them immediately without any concern of how we will manage compliance, payments, and more.You really get the feeling that our account manager cares personally about our success. All of our queries have been handled same-day and we were put in touch with compliance experts in places like Nigeria and Germany where we didn’t have the expertise in local labor laws.

Megan Reed,

Chief Human Resources Officer, oVice

Get insights into your workforce

HR reporting and analytics can give you critical data to help you make more informed strategic decisions. Platforms like Deel can collect data and report on metrics like:

  • Time to hire

  • Cost per hire

  • Turnover rate

  • Attrition rate

  • Absenteeism

  • Revenue per employee

  • Employee engagement

  • HR cost per employee

Insights like these can help you see how much of your resources you can allocate to global recruitment. You can also spot issues like escalating labor costs or disengagement. For instance, high turnover rates are a classic sign of low employee satisfaction.

HR analytics also arm you with the right information to win over potential investors and partners. You can present a data-backed account of your scalability, operational efficiency, and current growth.

Manage equipment and tools for remote workers

To remain competitive with larger organizations, startups must find a cost-effective way to provision equipment and tools for their mobile workforce. 

The best HR solutions integrate with all the most popular free and low-cost apps. For example, Deel offers integrations with popular business software like QuickBooks and Microsoft Teams. We also provide Deel Engage Plug-Ins, which let you foster a better work culture through initiatives like employee surveys and announcements.

When sourcing equipment, many companies offer a monthly or yearly stipend. However, startups may find it challenging to ensure teams get a choice of the right tools while sticking to a budget. 

Deel has partnered with Hofy to help businesses manage equipment provisioning for remote, distributed teams. The service enables employees to choose equipment, such as laptops and smartphones, from a pre-approved catalog.

Hofy then delivers the equipment, taking into consideration challenges like customs and import regulations. They can guarantee that team members get essential equipment on time so they’re prepared to work, no matter where they are in the world.

Build your mobile workforce with Deel

A mobile workforce is critical to startup success. By supporting dispersed teams, you can quickly reach a strong ROI and avoid escalating labor costs.

Consolidated HR and payroll solutions like Deel are key to mobile workforce management strategies. Our tools allow you to consolidate your operations, automate essential processes, and expand your capacity. We can give you the operational efficiency to compete with larger global corporations.

Think Deel could help power your startup? Contact the Deel team to learn more.

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