The Case for Building a Distributed Team

by Justin Reynolds on May 3, 2017 8:00:00 AM

distributed

A lot of folks have the same misconception about remote workers: They’re lazy, unmotivated people who sleep the day away and, in the rare instances they actually do any work, they’re usually in their pajamas sitting on the couch giving less than their all.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Because of the benefits distributed workers bring to the table, many companies have already decided to at least allow some of their employees to tackle work remotely every now and again. Others are transforming into fully distributed teams that don’t even have a central office. In fact, a recent Entrepreneur article suggests that 59% of organizations plan to have more than half of their teams working remotely by 2020.

If you’ve never bought into the notion that a distributed team can help take organizations to the next level, it’s time to rethink your opinion. Here’s why:

 

01. Distributed teams save companies a ton of money

Office space is expensive. According to a recent report, the median rent expense for startups is $6,100 a month — or more than $73,000 a year. Then you have to pay for electricity, furniture, servers, office supplies, and an office manager. Slowly but surely, all of those expenses add up into a considerable chunk of change to the point it could cripple your cash flow.

However, when you build a distributed team and everyone works remotely, you will save a ton of money on unnecessary office expenses. You can use that money to grow your business however you want. Hire additional employees. Invest heavily in marketing. Develop new products. The sky’s the limit.

 

02. You are more likely to secure VC cash too

As office space becomes even more expensive — particularly in places like San Francisco and New York City — venture capitalists are tightening their purse strings and funding fewer companies, according to a recent item in The Guardian. This makes sense. Put yourself in their shoes. What’s the point of investing in a company only to have that company funnel a significant chunk of your investment to a landlord?

Companies that decide to build a remote workforce are more likely to secure VC funding simply because they don’t have to spend so much money on rent and associated office utilities and other costs. At the very least, having a distributed team shows potential investors that you’re agile, adaptable, cost conscious, and modern. 

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03. You can hire candidates with more talent potential

When an organization requires every employee to show up to work at an office every day, the talent pool that they are able to hire from shrinks considerably. For the most part, you can only hire people that work in the town or city you’re set up in. Maybe if you’re lucky, you can convince a few talented folks to commute an hour each way to work. But that’s it.

Distributed companies have a much larger talent pool to choose from. You can literally hire workers who are living anywhere in the world — which makes it easier to make the right hiring decisions.

Additionally, one of the perks top talent is most interested in is the ability to make their own schedules and work from wherever they want to work from. This is why the best candidates are attracted to distributed companies.

 

04. Distributed employees will enjoy a better work-life balance

Distributed companies are known to allow their employees to make their own flexible schedules — something that is proven to boost engagement. Sure, you may need to have all-hands calls every now and again where employees are required to be available during certain blocks of time. But that’s something that every employee understands.

While many companies require their employees to be at work during specific hours (e.g., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), does it really matter when your employees tackle their work? As long as they do a great job without missing any deadlines or meetings, why can’t they work the hours that are most convenient to their lives?

Your employees won’t reach their full potential if work forces them to routinely miss important events in their personal lives (e.g., their kid’s soccer game) simply because they’ll be unhappy. With a distributed team, it’s easier to embrace flexible schedules — which will improve your team’s collective work-life balance.

 

05. They will also be more productive

Studies show that remote workers are happier — and therefore more productive — than employees who are forced to head to the office every day. In fact, according to our research, a vast majority of workers (91%) say they get more done when they work from home.

Anyone who’s ever had to commute a long way to a job knows how soul-crushing those trips can be. In addition to dealing with rush-hour traffic, long commutes can add a lot of time to your workday.

When you’re able to work from home, your commute disappears completely. Instead of spending two hours of their day traveling to and from work and eight hours in the office, the remote worker might decide to clock nine hours from the comfort of their own home. Their day would still be shorter and your company will benefit from an extra hour of work. Multiply that across your organization for an entire year and you begin to see how much more productive your company can become when it’s distributed.

 

06. Distributed teams can appear bigger than they actually are

If your company is based on the East Coast and everyone works at the office, you can’t provide your customers with round-the-clock service. Everyone sleeps during the same hours.

Distributed companies, on the other hand, can consist of employees in practically every time zone. This enables organizations to take advantage of time zones and provide seamless support for their customers whenever it’s needed. In this light, a distributed company can appear to be much larger than it actually is just because two or three people will always be there to answer the proverbial phone (or respond to the email). 

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07. You can look forward to exciting team get-togethers

Just because your team is distributed doesn’t mean that you never have the opportunity to hang out with them in real life.

Zapier, for example, is a SaaS company that has workers distributed all across the globe. Twice a year, the company has summits that all workers attend. After getting to know someone digitally, employees get to meet their colleagues in the flesh. These summits are events that workers look forward to all year long. To date, Zapier’s team has been on retreats in California, Alabama, Utah, Texas, Washington, and Colorado, among other places.

So in addition to getting to meet the people you collaborate with online, distributed teams that hold company-wide summits get to travel to a lot of interesting places they might otherwise never visit.

Doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?

 

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This post was written by Justin Reynolds

Justin Reynolds is a freelance copywriter, journalist, and editor based in Connecticut.

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