The number of tech companies that turn to the distributed work model keeps increasing every year. In fact, remote work has become an undeniable element of modern tech culture.
On top of that, last year and the remote experiment due to Covid-19 has radically changed the working habits. For many of us, a significant percentage of the pandemic life has been spent working remotely, working from home or working as a part of a distributed team. This has pushed digital transformation in many businesses, and emphasized the role of technology in connecting teams. It is clear that the world around us is changing, and so are the organizational structures.
But one thing has stayed the same, and that is the need for high quality tech talent in companies. According to the Talent Shortage report, IT experts are between the top three of the hardest roles to fill for a company in Germany. Micro, small and medium enterprises are most struggling with the shortage, specifically out of the latter two, 59% and 74% reported the issue.
To solve this issue, it is important to note that working remotely is not just a buzz word for employer branding. In fact, it was reported by GetApp that remote workers have risen by 400% in the last decade. That can be a game-changer for your company. Hiring and managing teams from a long distance comes with huge advantages and is here to stay.
In this article we will explain why working with distributed teams can solve the tech talent shortage in your company.
What are distributed teams and how they work
Distributed teams consist of employees working in different locations all over the world. They work remotely and do not share the same physical workspace or even a geographical area.
Working with distributed teams is not a new thing. In fact, some companies that are digitally native have been working like that for years. A decade ago an American online art community Deviantart mentioned that no two developers even live in the same city. Fast forward to the present, Twitter says their employees can work from home forever and that decision really echoed in the world.
The software giant Atlassian is letting employees choose where they work – whether that is at home, in the office or a combination of the two. The company dubbed this new way of working “TEAM Anywhere”. It includes the elements of having talent everywhere, working flexibly and reimagining teamwork. Spotify says work is not something you come to the office for, it is something you do. They are giving their employees the freedom to choose where they work saying that will boost effectiveness.
The five levels of distributed work
The founder of Automattic and one of the creators of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, believes the future of work is distributed. He describes the 5 levels of distributed work. There are jobs that cannot be done remotely and the ones where there is no effort to make the system more remote friendly. There are also companies whose employees just continue working online during the corona virus and the ones who introduced remote work and see benefits.
This all leads up to the last two levels as described by Mullenweg. The fourth level is about asynchronous distributed work where no one has to be present at the same time and the management believes distributed teams can do the job. The last one is Nirvana, the ultimate goal, which means you are constantly performing better than any in-person organization would.
Distributed teams prove to be successful
Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report demonstrates that 90% of entrepreneurs claim they support remote work. Another significant advantage to the success of distributed companies is the powerful impact on costs. For example, Dell saved more than $39 million over two years after encouraging remote work. Health insurer Aetna saves $78 million annually by urging employees who can work remotely to do so.
The above mentioned examples show there are companies who not only depend on distributed teams but are successful in managing them. It is a highly competitive landscape out there when it comes to tech talent. Therefore, working with distributed teams allows a startup to employ a more diverse talent pool, decrease costs, and help them scale faster.
Unlocking the worldwide talent pool
We would argue that the main advantage of distributed teams is the flexibility to access specialized talent regardless of their location.
According to Steve Jobs, hiring the best is the most important task: “When you’re in a startup, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is ten percent of the company. So why wouldn’t you take as much time as necessary to find all the A-players?”
In today’s high demand for quality tech talent, finding the right people is even more important. So why limit yourself with the choice and the chance to scale up your company faster?
Find tech talents where they are
Workers have an increasing preference for being remote, and feel comfortable working in distributed organizations. The Upwork report estimated that in February 2020 around 19.5 million people were fully remote, but by 2025, this number will be closer to 36.2 million people. According to the study, these numbers imply that 16.8 million additional workers will be fully remote in the long run.
Also, 98% of remote workers want to continue to work remotely, at least for some of the time, for the rest of their careers, as reported in Buffer’s State Of Remote Work report.
While building distributed teams just from the start might seem challenging, it can be done. Take it from Zapier’s co-founder Wade Foster who says that is a better way to work: “It allows us to hire smart people no matter where in the world.” The company consists of 100% remote teams and it is their way of attracting and retaining talent.
It might be that your next hire is probably not just around the corner, but in another part of the world. Not only can you unlock an infinite pool of talent worldwide when working with distributed teams, you can also find the best people for your business.
How to manage distributed teams
When managing a distributed team, some questions about tracking work efficiently or preserving the company culture might pop up. But think of it as scaling your company globally. Working with a distributed team means employees from all over the world are working together but remotely. This might sound idyllic but it is how distributed teams function. In fact, more than 55% of hiring managers expect more of their team to work remotely by 2028 rather than less. That goes to prove you need to adapt to this trend.
Lessons about distributed teams from Google
There is no one-fits-all approach to manage distributed teams. You need to develop processes that work well for you and your team and include different nuances. Here are three key guidelines to help you set up your strategy for managing distributed teams, as explained by Google.
➔ Place: Focus on physical space, time zones, and technology. An effective virtual collaboration experience starts with set-up, logistics, and the right tools.
➔ People: Focus on relationships. Building and maintaining relationships is important for collaboration across distance.
➔ Practices: Focus on communication. Having a plan for communication, structures, and norms is critical for virtual teams.
Having a distributed team obviously reflects on your work culture. Or maybe we can say it happens vice versa. Essentially, in a remote world you need meaningful ways to bring your business and culture to life. Companies with distributed teams need to work harder to create a tight culture. But company culture is something that needs to be present always, no matter which organizational structure you choose.
Working with distributed teams is here to stay
While big tech companies are thinking about ways to reopen their workspaces, one question remains. Do you really need a centralized team and office to have the best tech teams working for your company? The workspace of the future is a way more flexible place.
Hiring remote teams means opening up an infinite global talent pool, allowing companies to access unique talent without compromising on integration. At the same time it is decreasing costs for both the employer and the employee.
No matter where in the world you and your team are, communication should be a strong priority. You should trust your team to work autonomously and strong company culture should be defined. Working with distributed teams can in fact make you more integrated, not less. Switching your mindset to working with distributed teams can solve a tech talent shortage.
If you are looking to hire tech talent or you just need advice get in touch with us to see how we can help recruit the best developers for your company.