The State of the Market

Like it or not, distributed teams are not only becoming popular but the norm for many up and coming tech companies. In fact, as many as one in every five Americans work from home. Why this shift towards working in slippers? One word: Talent. It turns out, the best talent is not necessarily located in the same city as your company. Many early adopters of distributed software development teams have realized this fact and are not letting it stop them from having the best employees. These early adopters are no doubt companies you’ve heard of. Several of these companies are 100% remote, meaning they have no HQ, office space or communal coffee. #nopantsmeetings

Concerns with Working Remote

Remote work evangelists scoff at the concerns that many feels are too great to consider in having distributed development teams. The main concerns associated with distributed software teams are communication barriers, company culture issues, and non-collaborative work environments. We’re here to tell you that these concerns become null when you’ve got the right tools and the right team in place. High quality work can absolutely be accomplished with distributed development teams. We’ve also got some stats about the traditional workplace that’ll blow your mind!

“Communication Amongst Distributed Teams is Ineffective”

Paper airplanes crash, Excel document versions get lost, and no one likes sifting through sticky 10 notes. If you’re still using these traditional methods of communication it might be time to upgrade to a useful tool that won’t let these painstaking issues become the fate of your next project. There are so many great tools out there. From straight up messaging and voice tools like Skype to complete project management tools like Basecamp (try it for free!) the options are nearly endless and they all beat pen and paper.
Twoodo sites around $37 Billion being lost annually due to employee misunderstandings and bad communication. With a killer communication tool, you minimize the risk of losing out on productivity from effective communication. Both distributed development teams and local teams can utilize a chat tool, giving your whole team access to each other all the time. If you still need convincing, try this scenario on for size: You’re up from your desk to go chat with a fellow project member about a new development requiring your tech team to switch priorities pronto. On your way to your team member’s desk, you chat with your best work buddy, grab a cup of coffee, nod, and smile at your CEO, use the restroom, answer three emails and update your Facebook status before you get to your team member’s desk. What were the details of the priority shift again? Dang, it. Now you have to go back to your desk to get your laptop or bring your team member to your desk, dragging them away from the 10,000 other things they need to do. 1 hour has gone by and you’ve not communicated the priority change. Doesn’t this sound like a huge waste of time? Too bad you couldn’t have just shot your team member a message and avoided that whole time-wasting scenario… oh, wait, you can, with a chat tool!

“Our Company Culture Would Get Lost with a Distributed Team”

Company culture plays a vital role in the success or failure of teamwork. But how does having or managing distributed development teams affect culture? It doesn’t. Not if you have a smart hiring process that is. We get it. Finding the perfect employee is hard, but at the end of the day, isn’t company culture based largely on the people you hire?
Time for a fun fact: Poor communication and unsupportive company culture is an employee-retention issue for between 20 and 30% of organizations. With odds like this doesn’t it seem that outsourcing is a good option regardless?
On a more optimistic note, 97% of people believe that teamwork and alignment within a team has a positive effect on the overall output of a company. The good news is that employees want to work together towards a common goal for the betterment of a company but they need clear communication and a positive work environment (which may be on the couch or in the office) to make it happen.

“Collaboration Can’t be Done with Off-Site Employees”

We literally talk to people while they are on other planets! We’re not scientists but making sound travel in a vacuum seems pretty hard… If we can carry out space missions on other planets, you can have a meeting with someone who isn’t physically sitting next to you.
The current state of the traditional workspace is not as collaborative as you might think. In fact, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. But don’t let that get you down. We’ve got some tips for how you can become a collab guru.

How to Be a Better Collaborator:

  • Optimize each individual’s skill set by listening to suggestions from all team members
  • Use real-time data to keep everyone on the same page
  • Confirm and clarify during meetings
  • Realize that open-mindedness may lead to your team’s next breakthrough
  • Be transparent
  • Utilize an online workspace that can be accessed by anyone anywhere

Companies that embrace distributed development teams have no geographic limitations when it comes to sourcing talent. This translates to hiring the best talent for the job at possibly a lower cost. Can you say win-win?