2023: The year HLabs focussed on international growth in two new timezones

Travel blog alert! Take a global tour of HLabs’ growing remote team by following Han's journey of visiting staff face to face.
11th Jan 2024
3 mins
Han Springett, CEO & Founder of HLabs
No items found.

Wow. What a year. It's Han here, and going back to my journalling habits to share some stories of a crazy amount of international trips that have definitely changed my business for the better!

To kick off, check out this interactive map (featuring our newest Webflow x Mapbox integration) showcasing the global reach of the HLabs team recorded at the end of 2023.

Not only have we got 35 talented team members based in 9 countries around the globe, they can speak 17 languages and we will now be focusing on taking up American hours to add to the mix in 2024. Let's jump straight in and meet some of my HLab'ers.

Global conferences were a welcome excuse!

For any of you that know me, goal setting is a huge part of my process. I looked back at one of my many lists which said 'I want to travel with work'. Conferences seemed to be a great place to start as I could network and market our business whilst seeing the team in person.

Amsterdam was our first international base when our Creative Director Shadi started. This was soon followed by Deima, a cracking Designer with a focus on book design and Rick our Senior Motion Designer. This years trip with the team of 4 was a simple pub in the park to discuss pros and cons of remote work over a beer.

Back in 2022 we organised a full team trip to Amsterdam to visit them, we packed it full of inspirational team activities like sightseeing by canal boat, museum tours, designer talks and a town hall meeting hosted in the Stedelijk Museum boardroom.

HLabs visiting Amsterdam Team all together

Amsterdam has hosted the Awwwards conference the last two years and has been a European hub of creative excellence. Shadi and I have attended the multiple talks, discussions, networking events and it was one of the highlights of my year.

On the success of meeting new contacts at the Amsterdam events, we saw the Web Summit advertised for Lisbon. Andiana, our Editorial Project Manager has been living in the city for a year and took me on a tour of her local area. This trip was filled with a lot of other agency owners, meeting CEO of our partners at ReadyMag, enjoying the summit's evening activities and drinking a lot of coffee.

Read about our trips to:

Awwwards Conference Toronto

Awwwards Conference Amsterdam

WebSummit Lisbon

Discovering a new continent, a new time zone, as well as a new attitude to work

HLabs over the years has expanded creative by creative across the European countries and then India. We hadn't considered hiring further than that until I attended a great workshop about distributed teams hosted by Prodigi alongside other agency owners at the Agency Hackers Ibiza trip. In this session I met Chris, founder of Tuncarp, based in Manilla. He shared stories of successfully building his business around talent in the Philipines and swore I wouldn't look back...

3 weeks later I'd hired Maryanne from Bohol and Cheryl in Manilla. Interviewing them reminded me what I love about recruiting talent. They both brought joy and energy and a drive to challenge themselves. I booked the trip to use my longer break over xmas to meet them. Over the few days we had together, exchanging xmas presents, personalised Pokemon cards and family stories I instantly realised I need face to face time with every team member to really understand their individual needs and motivations.

Tuncarp team hosted us for their Holiday party

We did manage to let our hair down though... Tuncarp invited us to their holiday party and you must admit, getting to know people always helps to have a little wine... luckily for us Tuncarp had enough booze to knock out an army! We were soon in a kareoke bar singing Whitney Houston!

"From a wee employee’s point of view, (well mine for that matter) work culture starts at the top of the organization . And the culture at HLabs is truly amazing! I even had sent a long ass sappy shoutout to all of my coworkers 4 weeks in the company because, daaaang I WAS JUST FLOORED!" Maryanne, Project Manager at HLabs

Read Maryanne's full testimonial

“I recognise I am a continuous ‘work in progress’, but I am grateful that being part of HLabs allows me to grow both professionally and personally.”

What makes a good remote first company?

Running a remote first team is not without it's challenges. But, at HLabs we refine our processes and improve our teams communication skills whenever we can.

The major advantage at hiring globally means you get a wider pool of talent. I couldn't believe that 700 people applied for our last position in just 24 hours. It also brings with it culture differences, personalities and skillsets that compliment each other and level up everyones understanding of fellow team mates.

"Seeing the remote team members in person has left a lasting impression on me this year. Being able to sit, chat, listen to feedback on how to adjust our communications has been a humbling experience. I’m grateful I get to surround myself with global talent, that have shared their intimate stories with me, seen their culture, and processed how we can continue to develop." Han, Founder & CEO of HLabs

Where’s left to visit on HLabs grand tour?

Obviously it would be ill advised to jump over to the Philippines every week for work but I do intend to meet each of my team members before our financial year is up! Just a few stops left!

  • Dublin to visit Sameer, Creative Technologist
  • Romania to visit Dru, Illustration Director
  • Canada to visit Maryanne, Project Manager

...and Sheffield.

“Traveling has the power to unveil hidden aspects of yourself, revealing treasures within that you never knew existed”. Himanshu, Tech Director at HLabs

What’s next for HLabs global expansion?

The most realistic expansion is in the Middle East. We already work with many clients in Dubai and Abu Dhabi through our agency partners at Emperor. The image above shows the last part of my 2023 excursion. Himanshu's UK travel Visa to visit for the xmas party had been declined a second year in a row so we decided to meet in Dubai instead. I must admit, talking to colleagues in a bikini at a beach club about growth mindset was a little weird but we made it a productive strategy meeting! We spent 4 days talking about building out Indian team with more Webflow developers and where to focus our new business efforts. Himanshu's logical thinking and extremely dedicated work ethic also reminded me we can really achieve anything if we put our mind to it!

For a long time I've imagined running a company with 24 hour production. With hiring in the Philipines and now Canada this doesn't seem too far a jump! Maybe this time next year maybe I'll be visiting a complete 'lab' in each time zone! We would get work done faster, stay cost effective and most importantly bring more senior specialised talent to our projects that would attract more global clients.

Do you want to join our global team?

We are always actively scouting for talent globally so please get in touch if you would like to join the HLabs team. We are particularly keen for meeting Webflow developers and senior designers in the American timezone.