Europe has the advantage of sitting 'on the middle of the world' and can cooperate with Asia and the US fairly efficiently in regards to the timezone. On top of that, the salary of developers in Europe is still 2x lower than in the US while the average quality remains the same. With that, engineering heavy products can be built much more efficiently in Europe while still having a big enough market to serve and get feedback from.
Over the past 18 months we’ve all reevaluated what it means to collaborate and be productive as a technical team. Developers can do amazing work when remote. Designers don’t need to be face-to-face to be successful. And engineers can sprint whether in the office or not. So even though a hybrid approach may be most effective--and it’s the one that I personally prefer--Covid has smashed the stigma about remote work.
Talent concentration was always an issue. For certain roles, you pretty much had to go to the Bay Area for talent with relevant experience. The sudden shift to remote-first approach helped distribute that talent and skill set across multiple places. It'll take a few more years to fully benefit from this trend though — it takes time to build new ecosystems.
Time zones remain a big issue. US talent is still very much locked in US time zones and European talent in European timezones. One thing has changed significantly — many EU-based companies are much more comfortable with hiring talent from other EU countries rather than just from their home country.
The current generation of talent expects authentic social responsibility and impact from the companies they purchase products and services from, let alone where they invest the next decade of their lives and careers. Our mission has been a critical component in our ability to attract high caliber talent early on in the journey. There is a clear dichotomy between the US and European talent when it comes to their appetite for risk in joining early stage startups. In our case, we managed to mitigate that due to our transformative mission that is changing the way people think about families while offering hope to the many that can’t afford one.
It is also obvious that being able to communicate and interact directly, with all participants in the same room, in front of the same whiteboard, simply does not have a viable alternative currently. There are differences per sector, but the flow of ideas, energy, creativity that can happen in person is much better than doing the same over the video link - and highly skilled workers are very aware of this! Decentralisation is happening , but workers will not just live anywhere - people do need to see each other from time to time.
We see that remote work "works". We cannot deny that it has become impossible to attract the best talents if we don't accept remote work. However, we are still big believers of having physical hubs to foster culture. As a result, we can operate very efficiently with 30% of the workforce being completely remote and the other 70% distributed in the different hubs. There is a certain type of magic happening when people interact with each other on a regular basis in person. This way, team members who work completely remote can still feel a strong culture deviating from these hubs.
Engineers from all over the world have been collaborating globally on open projects for decades; the creator of Linux is Finnish, Mysql is Swedish, the original Apache group had Indian/Italian/German/British engineers, video-player VLC is French and popular 3D-software Blender is Dutch. Traditional companies and startups have been reluctant to build global teams due to cultural inertia, access to talent and collaboration constraints. With remote work being normalised, these previously perceived immutable constraints are starting to wear away. This enables dissemination of talent, learnings and approaches across tech-ecosystems instead of concentrating them.