Spurred by necessity and shifting employee preferences, businesses around the world are rapidly embracing a new work paradigm. In this new model, colleagues — even those who work closely together within teams — are more likely than ever to be dispersed across geographies, mixing traditional corporate facilities with remote locations, including coworking spaces and home offices.
We call this phenomenon ‘distributed work.’ And while every distributed team is unique, they all have one thing in common: they represent the future of work.
As a result of COVID-19, businesses around the world have collectively been forced to adapt to distributed work philosophies due to an unforeseen global health crisis for which most were ill-prepared. As a result, organizations are now faced with creating and deploying policies for the oft-discussed ‘future of work’ long before it was anticipated.
Statistically, your employer either already has or will soon introduce a formal “work from home” policy, increase hiring in remote offices and coworker spaces, or begin supporting flexible work schedules. Taken together, these changes represent a significant evolution of the way we work and how we define the workplace.
The Factors That Make Work “Distributed”
Every company’s distributed workforce looks different, but most distributed teams include one, all or a combination of the following factors:
More than one office location
Many companies have more than one physical office location. This gives a company the advantage of having a larger pool of talent and a local presence in multiple locations. By hiring employees who know the native language and local customs, companies can form stronger relationships and trust within specific geographic regions. Additionally, companies that operate globally benefit from having employees work across time zones to provide higher-level support to international customers.
Employees that work from home
Globally, 70% of people work from home at least once a week. A growing percentage of those employees work from home permanently. This is advantageous for both employers and employees. Remote workers save organizations, on average, $22,000 a year per employee since the company does not have to provide the employee with office real estate, electricity, food, etc. For employees, working from home gives them a flexible work schedule without time lost due to commuting and a comfortable and familiar work environment.
Employees who work from coworker spaces or public spaces
Working from home is not for everyone. Some remote workers like the idea of working from a local coffee shop or quiet space like a library on a regular basis. Other employees may find it hard to stick to a regular work schedule or stay focused with the many distractions at home or in public spaces. For remote employees who live a considerable distance from one of their company’s main offices and don’t like the idea of working from home or a public space, a coworker space is a great option. This allows employees to locally commute into a shared, rented office space that often provides a more structured and productive work environment. Additionally, some companies that have multiple remote employees in a specific geographic location may find it more cost-efficient and productive to have those employees work from the same shared office space.
Mobile employees who work on the go
Mobile employees are those who work on the go, away from the main office and their homes. Having mobile employees doesn’t look the same for every company, but typically, a mobile workforce is a group of people dedicated to working “in the field,” away from a traditional office setting. Traveling salespeople, field engineers, service teams, delivery personnel, maintenance technicians, aviation employees and event managers are all examples of positions within the mobile workforce.
How Distributed Work Differs from “Working from Home”
Distributed work refers to companies that have one or more employees who work in different physical locations. This blended work model may comprise on-site teams at one or more office locations as well as remote employees who work from home, coworker spaces or public spaces or on the go. Employees who work from a home office are just one part of a geographically distributed team.
What You’ll Learn in This Guide
1. Why distributed work is the future of the workforce
We’ve put together a compelling list of statistics and trends that are driving the remote work revolution. We also outline the top advantages of distributed work for enterprise companies.
2. How to hire a distributed team
Hiring a distributed workforce is especially challenging since you may not have the opportunity to meet the jobseeker in-person during the interview process. We provide seven useful steps to help you find and hire the right candidate for your company. Additionally, we outline six qualities to look for when hiring a remote worker.
3. How to run a distributed enterprise team
As the manager, your job is to make sure your distributed team is communicating effectively and working together efficiently to accomplish team goals. With the right people, processes and tools in place, it’s possible to build a productive and engaged team. We outline eight steps for successfully managing a distributed team and provide management tips from industry leaders.
4. How to promote company culture across distributed teams
Since distributed teams interact and communicate inside digital communication tools rather than inside a physical office, your company culture has to go beyond ping pong tables and happy hours. We show you why company culture, especially for remote teams, is so important and provide useful strategies to help build your company culture playbook.
5. Productivity for distributed teams
Distractions at home, communication issues, poor time management and accountability issues among other challenges can all affect how much each employee accomplishes in a workday. A highly productive distributed workforce doesn’t just happen on its own. It requires the use of the right tools and smart strategies to ensure everyone is contributing and actively working together as a team. We provide useful tips to help increase the productivity of your distributed team.
6. Challenges with distributed operations
Even with all the advancements in technology related to communication, collaboration and productivity for distributed operations, effectively managing and running a distributed workforce is still challenging. We outline some of the common challenges for distributed teams and provide useful tips to help overcome each obstacle.
7. The distributed team tech stack: 20+ apps and
There are a number of tools designed to improve employees’ productivity but building a tech stack for distributed teams isn’t just a matter of having a collection of great tools. It’s how you literally stack those tools and how they work together seamlessly that make them useful and effective for your employees. Here are 20+ apps and tools to keep your remote workforce productive and working together as one unit regardless of their physical location.
8. Distributed workforce security tips
By moving data outside the premises of a single physical office and across a global network of devices and access points, asset management and security has become a major challenge for enterprise companies. Organizations with a geographically distributed workforce have to take data security seriously and implement a comprehensive security plan to protect their employees and sensitive company data. We outline the top five security challenges and solutions for distributed teams and best practices to ensure data security.
9. Distributed work resources
We’ve put together a list of tools, blogs, guides and solutions to help you start or scale your distributed workforce. Use these resources to stay up to date on distributed work tips, best practices and remote work statistics. We’ve also included some of our favorite distributed work tools, best places to recruit remote workers, additional distributed work guides and communities for remote workers.
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