Traditionally, it was uncommon for a startup, especially in the tech industry, to opt for a distributed work model. Having people scattered across the country (or a globe) seemed like a less-than-feasible approach to work.
In some cases, it was not wrong to think so. Especially during the integration phase, it can be more practical to have your engineering, development, and strategy team all in one place. It simplifies brainstorming and task management, which in turn produces better business ideas and improved productivity.
In fact, at some point, Yahoo banned remote work completely. According to Marissa Mayer, the CEO at that time, Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.
And it’s not just Yahoo – Steve Jobs promoted in-office work as a far more productive environment. He went as far as to invest in office design in which bathrooms are centrally-located. The goal was to inspire employees to interact as they “bump into each other.” True – not all chit-chat was work-related, but the little amount that was delivered excellent results.
Times have changed. An increasing number of startups are choosing to implement a distributed workforce model in the earlier stages. The change was inflicted for multiple reasons, including the rise in competition, new technological advancements, and increased focus on globalization.
This did not happen overnight. It took years for businesses (of all sizes and ages) to test the distributed work model and see if the outcome is satisfactory. Apparently – since we are now looking at a 140% increase in the number of distributed workforces since 2005.
What is a distributed team?
The term “distributed” is attributed to teams that are dispersed across several locations. The trend started mostly with development, sales, and support teams, but today we see this trend expand to other departments.
In some cases, startups don’t even establish a physical office but choose to have all their employees work remotely. If all is properly arranged, this represents quite a practical and economical approach to a growing business.
How distributed teams facilitate plans for your startup
Collaboration with remote workers does bring about certain challenges, but those who approach this transition strategically know that the pros outweigh the cons.
Here’s what you should strive for:
An increased number of attractive candidates
Tightly niched startups struggle to find candidates in the area who tick all of the boxes. By broadening the search to more remote locations, you are likely to connect with a person who possesses all the necessary qualities.
No Ruby developer in your town? Not a problem – there’s bound to be one across the border, and they might even have experience working on projects similar to yours.
Expanding the search for talented employees to remote locations can potentially result in one more advantage: lowered cost of work. You might agree: for a rising startup with limited funding, all cost-cutting options should be explored.
A crucial step here involves researching average salaries for the position(s) you are looking for and tax benefits. If you manage to find a quality candidate who will complete their work at a lower rate, you will be looking at a far more attractive financial plan.
For some countries, this means going way out of their comfort zone and establishing offshoring offices. Yes, a different time zone, language, and culture can be an issue, but far from an unsolvable one – be extra sure that you’ve found the candidate or a team who is worth it.
Better connection with the target market
If you are thinking about conquering remote marketplaces, consider forming a local team. Not only will they serve as your primary point of contact, but they will also be the ones to help you with the unknown.
Here’s the deal – no matter how well you investigate a market, its climate, and customer needs, your knowledge will never beat that of a local person. They will successfully break language and cultural barriers, enabling you to compete with the previously-established local startups from your industry.
While a different time zone is one of the most commonly cited disadvantages of employee distribution, it doesn’t come without its perks. Opening remote offices also mean that you can always have a team working as the others are resting. For startups that intend to target the global market, 24/7 availability can mean the top and flop difference.
Do not make this decision lightly. Yes, the tools and software allow you to establish a remote team literally anywhere, but not all distributed teams produce exceptional results. For a startup to thrive, it has to be built by the best possible people. Each person has to possess the qualities required for their position, and dependable communication channels need to be set in place for them to work together – as they are expected to.