A Distributed Workforce is one which works outside the constraints of a normal office. Teams are not necessarily assembled according to geographical location. Whereas work is traditionally either undertaken in-house or outsourced, the Distributed Workforce enables workers to work remotely. Workers work from home, in off-site locations and also often juggle various locations in their working week. It is a trend on the rise.
The autonomy granted to employees gives them a sense of empowerment and also grants them huge degrees of flexibility. The technique also lessens time wasted on commutes and other office-based interruptions. This improved work-life balance helps to improve productivity.
With employees casting a wider web than is usual, it is more likely someone will be at relatively close proximity to customers and thus makes face to face interactions more feasible.
The lack of offices also cuts costs drastically, although this can partly offset by an atypically large travel budget. With less money tied up in real estate, firms operating with Distributed Workforces are also more agile.
Moreover, geographical constraints on hiring are removed and as such it is possible to hire from a much larger talent pool than would usually be possible. Also removes geographical constraints when selecting teams to undertake certain projects. In an increasingly global marketplace, a Distributed Workforce also helps firms take advantage of numerous timezones- although equally this can also lead to problems as key personnel might be asleep when their assistance is needed by someone on the other side of the planet.
Employees organise using a networking infrastructure which provided a platform for employees to create teams, assign tasks and communicate effectively. Wikis are often used allowing workers to simultaneously collaborate on the same documents. The use of cloud computing also allows employees to share files and access the company database. Where relevant, said resources also enable management to organise the company. The use of Skype and other videoconferencing platforms also enables firms to hold meetings remotely. The bring your own device (BYOD) trend also makes Distributed Working as it ensures many employee’s personal devices are linked up to the firms internal network.
10 Tips: 1) Define Work systems
2) Establish multiple communication tools
3) Schedule regular meetings
4) Have clear and detailed deliverables
5) Make sure work hours overlap
6) Create a professional work environment
7) Choose (video) calls of chatting or email
8) Find the right people to work with
9) Establish a meritocratic system
10) Use project management tools
Automattic (makers of WordPress)
Automattic operate with a purely Distributed Workforce and coordinate work using a number of internal blogs which enable employees from all over work to pitch in on various projects. Their CEO tracks these blogs and is able to direct affairs through them, as well as making himself available on Skype and by phone.