How to Build a Successful Distributed Team for Your Project
The ‘Work from Anywhere’ phenomenon has become a norm these days — professionals are ditching the age-old office culture and embracing remote working because of the flexibility, peace of mind and work-life balance it offers.
The idea of a distributed workforce finds its roots in the concept of remote working. There are even fully remote companies like Zapier, Buffer, Automattic, Toptal, etc. that completely rely on the services of distributed teams for both tech and sales jobs.
In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on six actionable steps that will help established or fledgling businesses to build and manage distributed teams for their projects. But, before we move into that, let’s take a quick look at the basics.
What is a Distributed Team?
Also known as a virtual team, a distributed team is a group of professionals who are geographically dispersed around the globe, but work alongside each other by communicating and collaborating via the internet.
Unlike a conventional office environment where employees work and interact in a face-to-face manner, members in a distributed team are physically present at different locations (and different time-zones) and coordinate work by utilizing various communication technologies.
6 Steps to Build and Manage a Successful Distributed Team
As a CTO or CEO, you may have a lot of doubts in your mind regarding how to hire candidates from across the world, what are the tools and resources needed, and the strategies to maintain a distributed work culture.
So, here are the basic steps that will help you to build and manage your dream distributed team.
- Hire the Right Candidates
It’s a fact that not every professional fits the bill of a remote worker; or rather, remote working ain’t everyone’s cup of tea. Moreover, a distributed team will have people from different cultures, nationalities and time zones. Hence, look out for people who can blend in well in a distributed team setting and who have solid remote working capabilities.
That is, besides possessing the requisite technical and coding skills, the candidates must be self-starters, independent workers, excellent communicators, team players and should have strong work ethics.
- Welcome New Members Onboard
For new hires, the onboarding experience defines their dedication, level of innovation, performance, and so on. But the sad truth is that 88% of companies do not have an effective onboarding strategy for new in-office employees, let alone for remote hires.
As a first step, welcome new hires over video-conferencing sessions and introduce them to the rest of the team. Then, detail to them (if possible, by creating a handbook) the company culture, mission, values and also the goals and expectations that your business is aiming for.
- Set Up Channels for Open Communication
One of the key reasons for project failure is the lack of proper, streamlined communication between team members. When it comes to a distributed team, communication is very crucial. Real-time video-conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Meet enable face-to-face interaction in a virtual setting.
But the main communication roadblock for distributed teams is the varying time zones that members are in. This can be overcome by implementing asynchronous communication platforms like Slack or Google Hangout.
- Select the Best Tools for Project Management
An open and transparent collaboration is essential to ensure that everyone in the distributed team remains on the same page. Project management tools such as Trello, Asana, Jira, Proofhub help in setting goals, customize workflows and provide updates on the status of an ongoing project.
So, no matter where your members are located; be it New York, Bangalore, Kiev, Abu Dhabi or any other city, everybody will feel connected, informed and will be able to execute their assigned tasks in an organized manner.
- Schedule and Conduct Virtual Meetings
Once you have all the communication channels and collaboration tools in place, schedule and hold virtual meetings on a regular basis — daily, weekly and monthly. It’s important to note down each member’s time zone, so that meetings, including brainstorming sessions, software demos and code reviews, can be meticulously scheduled.
For larger distributed teams, it’s better to conduct daily standup meetings (during the overlapping hours) for each department.
- Provide Regular Feedback to Your Distributed Team Members
Nothing is more motivating than genuine words of appreciation. According to a study, 39% of employees don’t feel appreciated at work and about 69% of employees are willing to work harder if their efforts are being recognized.
Distributed team members may be scattered around the world but make sure you provide honest and constructive feedback about their weekly/monthly performance. If possible, send them gifts or reward them with other incentives; these acts will boost their morale and strengthen their commitment towards work.
Hiring distributed teams not only allows businesses to gain access to a global talent pool, but also reduces overhead expenses and improves productivity of workers, thereby leading to higher retention rates.
And with the changing times, a distributed workforce culture will define the success of your business; so if you don’t want to be left behind your competitors, start building your distributed team right away.
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