Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to help build, grow and scale a team in Wroclaw, Poland. It’s been a highlight of my career and one I shall always remember.
Poland is one of the many growing and rapidly expanding countries where the tech industry is investing heavily and the local industry is booming.
Of course, cost is a leading factor for why many companies build teams in Poland, but what I’ve discovered is there is a whole lot more besides just cost. And don’t be fooled by the basic economics – I know too many managers who have teams in Poland whose costs are skyrocketing in travel, broken team spirit, communication and lost productivity.
Building a team in a different country to your head office requires skills, experience, amazing communication and a relentless pursuit of building the right culture – ignore these and costs will escalate quickly.
One thing I should caveat with this article is that it is not about outsourcing. Poland has some unbelievably good companies offering “outsourced” development teams – give me a shout if you want an introduction or help with this – as there really as some very good companies.
My experience is building a team of permanent employees who happen to be located in Wroclaw, Poland.
Here are 5 reasons why Poland might be an option for you. And if you do decide to build a team in Poland I can help you.
The quality of engineers (dev, test, product, scrum master, customer support etc) in Poland is exceptional. IT is still a fairly young industry in Poland but there is no shortage of talented people in any of the roles you would typically find in an IT/Tech company.
Coupled with this high calibre of people is a strong and committed work ethic . There are excellent Universities, companies and communities who are nurturing the next generation of engineers. If you can create an amazing place to work and nurture the culture then you should have no problem attracting really good talent.
Poland has some of the best coders in the world too according to this report.
The people make the whole experience really positive. They are overwhelmingly supportive and welcoming.
Poland has a rich history, great museums, natural wonders and many places of interest. There are great towns and cities like here, and here, and here, and here, and the food is amazing. The beers and vodka are good too 🙂
The Polish Economy is Stable
All economies are somewhat struggling and fluctuating given some of the big events and turmoil in the world, but the Polish economy is reasonably stable.
Poland doesn’t appear to have some of the wild swings that other countries are experiencing with foreign investment, where one minute it’s the cheapest place to open an office, and then next week it’s the most expensive. That means it’s a reasonably steady bet to open an office there and invest in Poland. Brexit may bring some complications for companies in the UK but it’s reasonable to assume trade and commerce will continue with few limitations.
There’s an interesting article on the New York Times about how the Polish economy is growing at a stable rate and how the future looks very bright indeed for Poland.
“The currency remains stable, exports continue to boom and the trade balance is in surplus. Since its winning streak began in 1991, around 80 percent of Poland’s growth has been delivered by the private sector, and the momentum there remains strong.”
For most companies located in Europe, Poland is a pretty straight forward country to travel to. Trains and flights are good from mainland Europe and flights are very reasonable from the UK.
Sure, you have to fly Ryanair or WizzAir but hey, I’ve never had a problem with either airline. As part of any planning phase you should look at travel costs as they can really clock up in the first few months as you establish the team and engage in culture building activities.
My suggestion is to fly all new starters to your HQ for a week or so, and have fortnightly travel between offices in both directions until the new office is totally self sufficient in hiring and scaling the culture of the business.
Travel to and from Poland has been very positive for me in the last few years, and although the costs ramp up early on, it doesn’t take long until the office operates in it’s own way and with autonomy (assuming you hire the right people 🙂 ).
Of course, for many companies especially here in the UK, cost can be a large factor in building a team in Poland.
Let’s not beat around the bush here – Poland is cheaper than the UK due to lower labour costs and other economic factors.
For every developer (programmer, tester etc) you hire in the UK you can essentially hire 2 or 3 in Poland.
Cost is a large factor in why companies choose to build teams in different countries, but as mentioned – if you get the culture wrong and you see your team as only cheaper labour you are destined to fail. This is totally the wrong attitude to have.
I have seen this first hand where managers have the false belief that the culture in a remote office doesn’t matter – it really does. Costs can ramp quickly with flights, hotels, training, lack of productivity and more.
By all means focus on costs, but focus on all of the other aspects of growing a good team also. It doesn’t matter where in the world your team are – they still want to be treated like people (a core underpinning of the Cultivated Management philosophy).
The infrastructure in many main Polish cities is excellent, with fast internet, good transport and excellent facilities. The offices, services and support functions for any business are all there and of the highest quality. There should be no problems at all with locating a team in Poland.
Poland is part of the EU too so legal and compliance is mostly covered too. Timezones are also in alignment with much of Europe meaning more reasonable working expectations for your team.
So go forth and consider building a team in Poland. I’ve had a very positive experience of growing a team in Poland – and have enjoyed every minute of it. If you wanted to chat further about how I can help – then please check out the Poland Potential service I offer.
(Note – I can advise in terms of building a new team in any new country – but I have no experience of doing the later stages of landing and implementing in any country other than Poland)
Some further reading: