How did Gitlab Reach a billion-dollar Valuation with a Remote Workforce?

Harshit Verma Harshit Verma
Nov 10, 2021 8 min read
How did Gitlab Reach a billion-dollar Valuation with a Remote Workforce?

Past One and a half years have been hard for everyone. We were in a global pandemic that confined everyone to their homes. The social aspect of being a social animal was almost cut off and thrown out of sight.

One of the most affected or I would say affected domains is the work domain. We all learned to work remotely in these tough times. Technology proved to be a good companion in these times. This was a good test for that too.

While almost everyone's opinion says that work from home is no substitute for in-office work. Remote working can be cost-saving, time-effective, and can break physical location barriers. It is thought that it might just never be the future of work. As it is not as efficient as the normal mode of work.

While we talk about the opinion of the general public, a company goes ahead and makes this mode of work their primary model of working. After doing that it touches a valuation of more than one billion dollars. The company is GitLab, and it has pulled off a magic trick. How can a company pull this off? This is the article about how GitLab managed to touch billion dollar valuation while all employees working remotely. Read on to uncover the growth mystery.

What is GitLab?
Remote Working in GitLab
How Did β€œAll Remote” Work for GitLab?
Benefits of Remote Working
What to Avoid while working Remotely
FAQ

What is GitLab?

GitLab is a software company. It makes a product, which is a complete platform for DevOps. The DevOps platform empowers organizations to maximize the overall return on software development by delivering software faster, more efficiently, while strengthening security and compliance.

So what is a DevOps lifecycle? It is a continuous cycle of software development. It involves development, integration, testing, etc. What makes GitLab unique is that it creates a streamlined software workflow for the organization.

One of the shiniest traits about this company is that It recently was named the biggest remote working company in the world. Crazy, right? Well, it takes courage to make the whole organization go remote, after all, it is a 1400 member organization and it can be difficult to manage work with this big of a team. Let us see how the remote working works and does it even work at all?

Remote Working in GitLab

GitLab recently was named the biggest remote working company in the world. Surprisingly the whole corporation works on a model of work-from-anywhere. Even with remote working, the company managed to create a billion-dollar valuation. This has put many people in awe like us on how it does it. The company has more than 85 per cent of employee retention that is higher than most companies average.

How is the company able to manage and work efficiently with all the employees working remotely from anywhere in the world? First, let's discuss what types of models exist for working remotely and then how GitLab follows an efficient type.

Stages of Remote Work -β€Œβ€Œ

No remote - A model where no remote work is allowed. It can be due to a leadership mandate.
Remote time - When some remote work time is tolerated and seen as a perk for jobs.
Remote exceptions - When some employees can work indefinitely and others work from physical offices.
Remote allowed - When anyone is allowed to work remotely, except few location-based exceptions.
Hybrid model - A mix of remote work and physical office work when and as needed.
Remote days - When the entire company works remotely (even executives).
Remote first - When the leadership assumes that the whole company is distributed.
Remote only - When the work is remote but team-based and time-based.
All Remote - Companies like GitLab where there is no office, no fixed time zone, and greeted flexibility. It also discourages frequent meetings.
Strictly remote - A company where it is strictly decided to never meet in person and work remotely always.β€Œβ€Œβ€Œβ€Œ


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How Did β€œAll Remote” Work for GitLab?

GitLab has its employees all remote. Remote here means that the company has no office, literally no permanent office at all. It however says it is open to small bursts of hybrid models. It is open to renting a desk but the company has no physical working space. So, how did the remote work model worked for GitLab.

Leadership Quality

Employees at lower levels of responsibility mimic the leadership at the top level. GitLab knows this and thus invests more on the senior level of executives. They choose carefully the leaders who are effective communicators and can handle a team remotely with the same efficiency as offline work.β€Œβ€Œ

Transparency

Remote work at GitLab discourages informal communication and it leaves fewer chances of communication. So, employees communicate more than normal to avoid any discrepancy. This leads to transparency of the whole company and betters the organization's administration. β€Œβ€Œ

Asynchronous Decisions

GitLab follows a DRI approach to decisions. DRI stands for Directly responsible individuals. This means, At GitLab, everyone can make a suggestion but the person who is actually making the decision can choose whatever he/she wants without explaining themselves. This ensures that decisions are not vanishing all over the employees. Otherwise, there would be just too much convincing work. β€Œβ€Œ

Iteration for coordination

Coordination is hard in any company. When it comes to remote, there are more time and location zones and it becomes even more trouble but GitLab has found a solution for itself. It does small tasks first to synchronize various departments and then increments the process in order to fulfill a bigger goal.β€Œβ€Œ

Writing culture

Documenting everything. It's easier to create and delegate tasks in an offline setting but not easy in remote work. So what GitLab does is that they write a lot, they write tasks completion details in a handbook, make annotations and get the work progressively done.β€Œβ€Œβ€Œβ€Œ


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Benefits of Remote Working

There are many benefits of working remotely. The most common that are the most easily clear is -β€Œβ€Œ

Cost-effective

Imagine running a business with no office at all. No physical space or office at all. This is highly cost-effective. This is what remote work enables employers to do. It saves cost and allows us to spend on more important tasks of the company.β€Œβ€Œ

Commute time

Employees save a lot of commute time, which can be devastating if you live away from work. The employees get the time back to themselves, leaving them with more time to spend with family or with themselves.β€Œβ€Œ

Flexibility

Employees get the benefit of work flexibility, which otherwise didn't exist. They can spend time with family when needed. Moreover, it boosts retention. GitLab reportedly has more than 85% employee retention.β€Œβ€Œ

Recruitment

When employees can work remotely they can be located anywhere. Even far from the workplace, even in a different country. It saves cost when we hire people from non-metro cities. β€Œβ€Œ

What to Avoid while working Remotely

If you are someone who wants to create a remote work organisation, there are a few common pitfalls that GitLab says you should avoid: β€Œβ€Œ

Do not Assume that there are No Resources Available Yet

In this tech world where you might think that everything is easy and can be done, you are not wrong there. Yes, every resource that you want for having your organisation go remote is already out there. Do good research and work with your employees to figure out what works best for your case.β€Œβ€Œ

Do not Replicate the In-office Experience, Remotely

This is the least you should do. If the arena is different, the rules should bend too. After all, it is a new dynamic work view. So replication of office experience will lead to turmoil. It is vital to reorganise and recalibrate at this point.

Do not transfer all in-person meetings to virtual

Remote work is not something unintentional. It is what you consciously choose to do for more efficiency. Transferring all meetings to virtual mode will not be efficient as it will take more time and lead to less productivity.

Do not assume that everyone has access to an optimal workspace

While people who are working remotely for a long time now would have calibrated to a more organised work desk. But do not assume that everyone has that privilege. Organisations should encourage employees to spend companies money as their own while constructing a home office. Also, consider reimbursing expenses.

Do not assume that remote happens overnight

Oh yes, it is a dynamic process, change can be a long process. Every employee may not be familiar with this mode of work or might take time to get used to it. Productivity may differ at different times and the solution is not to panic but to give it more time. Don't assume your existing values can remain static.β€Œβ€Œβ€Œβ€Œ


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Conclusion

According to the software company GitLab, β€œAll remote is the future”. The world opens its eyes to a new and refreshing reality that is unlocking new potential. They can, as it turns out, accomplish their work from anywhere.

When you have the freedom to work anywhere with a stable internet connection, you’re able to build your career around your life, not vice versa. You can chase superior air quality and schools, move to a smaller community, move back home, relocate to be a caregiver, or travel full time. All these benefits provide an agile edge not only to businesses but also and primarily to employees.

FAQ

Is GitLab fully remote?

Yes, GitLab is a fully remote company, meaning that all of us (currently six) work 100% of our time from home or any other place in the world.

Is GitLab a good place to work?

According to a report 95% of employees at GitLab say it is a great place to work.

What is the meaning of remote working?

Remote work is a practice where employees do their jobs remotely or from their home.

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