What is a Distributed Team? And why should I consider one?

What is a Distributed Team? And why should I consider one?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. An up and coming company strikes gold and begins expanding rapidly. Suddenly, they’re in dire need of a team of engineers and developers to create and maintain the software they need.

So, what do they do?

They begin looking locally for talent, but it’s hard. Many of their top candidates have been snatched up by the big names companies. Or maybe they can’t afford a U.S. or local firm’s rates.

They then find themselves faced with the prospect of outsourcing work, but they’re hesitant to do so. Wouldn’t outsourcing work to an offshore or nearshore team just mean more hassle, and frustrating communication issues? Perhaps not.

At least, not if distributed teams are on the table.

What is a Distributed Team?

Enter the distributed team. What is a distributed team, you might ask?

For the most part, it is what it sounds like—a team of employees working from a variety of locations rather than in a centralized office space. Typically, the term “distributed team” is used in the world of technology. More typically, it refers to outsourcing work to a nearshore or offshore location.

But let’s clarify for a second here. It’s also in the same family as the “hybrid team.” Hybrid teams are teams with employees that have the autonomy to choose whether they work in an office space or remotely.

So, it’s understandable to have hesitations about the logistics and communication issues that arise from not having your entire team in one location.

But that’s no reason to skip them altogether. There are more benefits to distributed teams than you might think.

Benefits of a Distributed Team

Putting things in numbered lists is such a cliché. Lists lose a lot of nuance. And yet, they’re convenient. So, here we are.

1. Access to a Larger Talent Pool

Even considering building a distributed team opens you up to a much larger and more diverse talent pool. You don’t even need to look far. Many countries that share the same time zone and that have less of a language barrier have an incredible number of qualified, talented engineers and developers looking for work.

By choosing to build a nearshore distributed team, you sidestep the typical difficulties of offshoring (brutal time zone differences, miscommunications), while also avoiding the hefty price tag of hiring a U.S.-based team. Plus, you bypass the time and effort it takes to look for local candidates in an increasingly competitive job market.

2. Increased Cost Efficiency

In a very practical sense, distributed (or hybrid) teams have numerous infrastructure benefits. You can dramatically cut the cost of building, renting, or maintaining a large office space by having a team that works remotely.

3. Happier Employees

When employees aren’t spending an hour or more commuting each way every day, they have more time and energy to do their best work. And, with a distributed team of employees working in different locations, it gives you the flexibility and agility to have more employees on the clock at any given time.

Don't knock it before you've tried it

Though distributed teams may not work for every business model, they are a great way to maintain standards and increase flexibility while cutting costs.

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