What is a Distributed Team?
If you’re a start-up looking to stay away from the traditional 9 to 5 office work environment or a company looking to shake things up, distributed teams might be the way forward. The distributed team's dynamic is one of the more interesting new ways of building a company as it completely takes a step away from how we’ve been working for the last 50 years.
Thanks to rapid advancements in technology, hardware has become more powerful than ever, cheap enough to remain available to everyone as well as being able to be portable and carried around the town. Now everyone has the hardware required to do their job from home or even whilst sitting in a coffee shop - so why do we still all convene to the office and use outdated desktops? It is something that already has become outdated in top company culture.
Distributed goes one step further than hybrid working as it involves the concept of having no in-person office at all, and having employees with no geographical limitations.
As an example at Wurkr, we have people working in England, Gran Canaria, and India. With the ubiquity of the ultra-fast internet these days there truly is no limit to where around the world you can employ people, There is nothing stopping you from having your HR from Germany, Sales from America, Techies from Norway, and Managers from Japan.
This is as opposed to hybrid working where the company will maintain a physical location where employees may choose to work remotely for a couple of days a week or none at all.
Why Distributed Teams?
Flexibility. That is the name of the game. For too long have hiring managers been restricted, missing out on fantastic candidates that would fit in with the ideal m company culture just because the commute is impossible without relocation. For any given office in a city, the possible labour pool is limited by both geographic and technical immobility. There might be a few hundred new hires within commuting distance, meanwhile, for a company with distributed teams, the labour pool spans the whole globe. Therefore, the company will get endless choices.
This flexibility isn’t just exclusively for the company either. When asked, remote employees tend to say that additional flexibility working from home gives is one of their favourite things. For remote workers, there are loads of underrated perks that come hand in hand with the lack of commute and the personal space that having your own home office provides.
An often overlooked benefit of distributed teams is that when you have employees all around the world, it brings with it a level of diversity that you simply won’t be able to match if just hiring on your front doorstep. While needlessly politicised these days, boosted diversity will show great returns as employees having fresh independent ideas from one another lets your company think outside the box like no other. Having employees from different backgrounds also allows your company to have multiple different ears to different grounds, picking up new trends and special events around the world. While I am from the UK, I may know what’s happening in my country, but I have much less of a clue about what's going on in Southeast Asia and business-boosting trends. Having multiple different perspectives allows for your company to always be one step ahead of your competitors.
Problems With Distributed Teams
The obvious issue with distributed teams is that, the distributed aspect. Having people hundred of miles away from each other does lead to communication issues and disconnected relationships if the company is unprepared and doesn’t have the right mindset.
There are mental health challenges that need to be considered when working remotely, with the biggest being the concern of isolation. Some remote work professionals can go days without needing to talk to any colleagues, and so if they are working remotely, they very well might not. While for some this may sound like a dream come true, the novelty quickly wears off. If not mitigated, it can lead to your employees becoming more reclusive and less willing to collaborate.
Another fairly obvious issue with distributed teams is the matter of time zones and their impact on teamwork. Having employees on the other side of the world finish work before you’ve even finished your breakfast doesn’t leave much time for communication and updates on projects you might be working on together.
However, this can be mitigated almost completely but having clear protocol on how and when you should prioritise communications with each other, maybe setting a clear meeting time that everyone can attend. It will help you to create a positive culture in the workplace. This also ensures that the issues for the day are hashed out then. The flip side of the negative is that, when you have people around the world you very well might have at least a handful of people working 24/7, this can be very useful when trying to establish leads for your business.
Solutions - Virtual office vs Meeting Software
A lot of the problems that come with distributed teams can be solved easily with the choice between having a virtual office or using the right meeting software. For the layman, it won't be immediately apparent what the differences are between the two, and if there are any they can’t make that big of a difference, right? Wrong. A virtual office replicates a physical office by having a visual representation of an office with multiple rooms, with each ‘room’ being a video/audio call that is constantly on, and no need for scheduling. Meeting software requires you to schedule meetings and invite people, and wait for them to join - this creates a lot of downtimes.
Virtual workspaces allow for instant communication with no scheduling needed, making collaboration easy. No longer will remote workers have to hold onto small questions till the next meeting since they aren’t a high enough priority to schedule an impromptu meeting. With a virtual office, all problems can be solved on the go with ad hoc 5-minute chats.
This ‘chat from a button system allows for employees to feel less isolated as they can have a chat with their colleagues at any point in the day, just like they would in the office. They do not have to wait for a meeting where everything is kept strictly professional to hear another person's voice.
Find out more differences between Virtual Workspaces and Meeting platforms here.
Why Not Try Wurkr?
Wurkr is a virtual workplace enabling teams to collaborate and stay efficient while working together from anywhere. Wurkr replicates your physical workplace virtually to create an environment that makes communication faster and employees feel closer to each other even though they are separated by thousands of kilometres.
Wurkr might be just what you need to transition to a distributed workspace.