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Conquering the World with Distributed Teams

Distributed teams

What does it mean to be a member in a remote team? Well, it means that conquering the world is made easier and achievable.

Why do I sound so confident? I have experience in Weekdone that supports it.

Whether you work in an established organization or in a new start-up, the emerging trend of remote working can be observed everywhere. It is not a new phenomena, but one that has recently captured a lot of attention from big leaders to huge researches.

On that note, did you know that according to Gallup survey remote workers actually log in more hours at their primary job than do their on-site counterparts. This is a good news for managers that might struggle with employee engagement. I must add, these managers are not just a few in the punch, but over half of them are faced with the challenge of keeping employees focused and engaged.

So, where does all that fuss about banning remote working come from? Mainly, it comes from big corporations like Yahoo, that have chosen a bit different road, asking their employees to return to the traditional offices. Evidently, they can experiment with these managerial methods, but a small start-up or even a medium sized company, has not the time or the resource to keep on testing.

Perhaps only few years ago, remote working would have seem like a road to failure. Imagine, having people around the world, doing their job and no one to really look after them. But with new technology and even greater tools at our disposal, this road is gaining popularity. The thought of being able to involve talent from any kind of location is too tempting to put it aside.

The overall discussions and worries that undermine the distributed teams is nothing more than a worry about efficient communication. It all comes down to having a team that is able to openly and effectively communicate its ideas. So, the true question is how to make the communication process as good as possible in a distributed team.

It all starts with A, hiring A Kick-Ass Team. No matter what the situation is, for a successful distributed team, you need employees that have enormous amount of self-discipline. Working from home or from any other location puts the person through a series of tests. Not to say that a typical office worker does not have to deal with distractions, but it is an entirely different level of distractions. Getting ready for work and actually walking up to the office building helps you refocus to work matters. Doing the job from a remote location demands a great deal of self-discipline to switch to working mood.

But once you have created a team of your lifetime, it is easier to build a communication strategy that will shoot your company to the moon. It is all about using the right tools and having face-time every now and then. Yes, you do need face time, even if it is overly expensive to reach the people that work for you. Building a great team is about being comfortable to share each other’s experience and ideas. This is possible only through relaxed atmosphere, which in turn is achieved by connecting with people in a more personal matter. In the long-run, the travel budget or time-spent will compensate in an increase of innovative ideas.

As distributed teams need to communicate each day and not only during the face-time, it is useful to start using some great tools. Everybody already knows Skype and Dropbox that have made everyday communications and file sharing like a walk in the park. All you truly need is internet connection and you are ready to make these tools work for you, rather than letting the technology lead you. These tools are great for everyday communications and big document sharing, but one piece of the puzzle is missing.

The absent part is the part that ties all this together and let’s you know how things in the team are humming. It is an employee status reporting tool, that a lot of remote teams have overlooked. In a distributed team it is even more important to be consistently aware of everybody’s achievements, tasks and problems. Being kilometers apart, you are not able to walk to your team-mates table and ask for a current update. You need a tool that solves the problem for you and keeps you updated with the current situation.

In addition to this, distributed teams need a whole lot of focus on time zones. If the team is located in different countries, it is essential to align with their time. This is probably one of the simplest things that gets overlooked. It is challenging to find one mutually convenient time for a call, if the team is in New York, Estonia and China, but this should not be insuperable.

Overall, it is no reason to think that on-site teams do not encounter challenges and their life is so much easier. But it is important to start thinking about these two types of teams separately. Communication strategies and methodologies used by distributed teams might not be the number one choice for people working at office and vice versa. So, accommodate your tools and methods accordingly.

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Today’s post is from guest blogger Külli Koort.

Külli is currently working at Weekdone weekly reporting startup, where she is focused on introducing the easiest and most efficient weekly reporting tool to the world. She likes to write about time management, productivity and employee engagement.

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