Visas and Work Permits — 4 min
For some, sustainability is just a buzzword. But for others — like the team at zolar — it’s a passion.
Built to make the biggest possible impact against climate change, this German solar energy company wants to hire employees that share the same mission. But to scout and nurture talent with the same driving passion, zolar needs to look beyond German borders.
Having started out in a cramped Berlin garage, the company now employs more than 450 people Europe-wide. Here’s why zolar trusts Remote to handle the complexities of its international recruiting and compliance, allowing it to focus on saving our climate — one solar panel at a time.
Current remote employee locations: Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the UK
Industry: Renewable energy, climate tech
On a 2015 bike tour of Patagonia, Alex Melzer was horrified to find evidence of man-made climate change, even in the most remote areas of the world. By the end of the tour, he decided to build a company that would protect the planet, and zolar was born.
Fast forward a few years, and this passion for sustainability and the environment is an attractive selling point for potential candidates. However, as Marc Woodford, zolar’s recruitment manager, points out, the best, most environmentally-conscious people are not only in Germany. As a result, zolar now manages a diverse team of workers across Europe.
Initially, this cross-border approach came from within the company, when an existing employee asked to relocate to another country. To facilitate this request, zolar searched the market for an employer of record (EOR) provider — and found Remote.
Straight away, the partnership was a good fit, with Remote sharing zolar’s commitment to the planet.
“We want to make sure that our choices have a sustainable impact, and that extends to our business, our people, and also our partners,” says Woodford. “Remote is a partner that shares our values, which is important to our mission.”
The success of the collaboration sparked a realization for zolar. With Remote’s EOR services, it could now easily hire top candidates from all over Europe: candidates that were driven to actually make a positive change for the planet.
“The ability to hire globally increases our talent pool significantly,” Woodford says. “And Remote offers great customer support and fast turnaround times, which is what we need for our business.
“Those two factors combined means we can find the greatest talent in a wider market, and onboard and manage them efficiently.”
zolar is a remote-first company, with engineers, designers, and logistics personnel working asynchronously throughout Europe.
But while access to a worldwide talent pool is a huge bonus for the company, keeping up with labor and tax laws in each and every country is impractical.
“As a recruiter, my value to the business is in knowing where all the great candidates are,” Woodford explains. “If I then had to think about the complexities of where people live, it would be a huge, huge barrier to overcome.”
With Remote I don’t have to worry. I can focus on the business’s needs, and onboard talent quickly and compliantly.
Without Remote, Woodford says, zolar would need a team of lawyers in each country and colleagues capable of speaking several languages. All of this would keep him from doing his primary job: finding the right talent for zolar.
“We can't realistically know about all the hiring laws in Germany, the UK, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and all the other countries where we employ people,” he says. “It would be an absolutely mammoth task. Remote completely takes that burden away from us, which is a huge help.”
The onboarding process is critical for a new employee and, according to Woodford, can make or break the relationship.
“The onboarding process can make someone very excited for their new role, or it could go the other way and make them anxious about the company,” he says. “Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to have the right partner, with processes and communication you can trust.”
Recruiters are the face of a company to new hires, so Woodford wants the onboarding experience to be as smooth as possible for the talent he’s sourced. “The handover time between signing an offer and actually starting is critical,” he explains. “It's also a period where we, as a company, risk losing candidates if the process is too slow.”
With Remote, new hires can be onboarded in a matter of days. “Having Remote as a partner makes my job as a recruiter easier,” says Woodford. “It also makes our job as a company easier, because we can focus on building the business and getting solar panels onto people's roofs.”
The team at Remote is always on hand to help make onboarding simple and fast, even when there are snags in the process.
“We once had a situation where the candidate needed to return their documents quickly, but they weren’t responding to the prompts from Remote,” says Woodford. “Our account manager at Remote reached out to us and said, ‘if this candidate doesn't upload this document and sign this by tomorrow, they can't start on time as planned. Can you also reach out to them?’
“We did and were able to get everything organized in time. That was a great experience for us. It could have been forgotten and the candidate would have missed their start date. But Remote was on top of it and that really helped our internal teams.”
Woodford, who is based in the UK, knows firsthand how easy the process can be; he was hired and onboarded through Remote himself.
“My own onboarding process was quick and smooth,” he says. ”My contract came through the day after I accepted the offer, and I had a dedicated person to answer any questions. The platform itself was also easy to navigate while I uploaded all my documentation.
It’s not just about a seamless onboarding process and a robust support net, though. As Woodford says, global hiring is about more than accessing the world’s best talent: it also means gaining perspectives from cultures and backgrounds all across the world. This is a huge plus for zolar.
“The ability to hire globally gives us much greater diversity as a business,” he says. “The workforce is more flexible, more willing to try new things, and able to pivot much more quickly because they’re constantly hearing new ideas from one another.
“If you just have the same people saying the same things and all agreeing with one another, you'll never get a different view towards something else.”
Without doubt, hiring internationally gives us a business advantage.
Despite its humble beginnings, the company has big plans for the future. It recently hired a new CEO and is looking to grow quickly in the next few years, with the delivery of renewable energy to new markets all mapped out.
It’s not just about growing for the sake of growth itself, though.
“We have big ambitions for the future and will focus on efficient and sustainable growth,” Woodford says. “We want to increase the amount of people that are on renewable energy and using solar to power their homes.
“The more the company grows, the more solar panels will be installed — and the more emissions we can reduce. That’s a big win for us as a business, but also a big win for climate change.”
Remote is committed to helping zolar on this journey, making it simpler to onboard and manage new talent — wherever it resides.
“From a hiring perspective, we may start to look into other markets, and having Remote as our global talent partner will enable us to really hit the ground running,” says Woodford.
“I feel so proud that we’ve been able to build an international team of mission-driven people who are passionate about climate change. Seven years ago, we were a few people in a little green garage in Berlin. Now we’re 450+ people and we’re all so excited about what we can collectively achieve in the future.
“I can’t wait to see what the next seven years will bring.”
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