Ten Reasons to Assemble a Dispersed Team

Ten Reasons to Assemble a Dispersed Team

Nov 1, 10 • In Philosophy

I’ve talked a lot about the “how” of dispersed teams on this site, but what about the “why”? Here are ten reasons to build a geographically distributed team.

  1. You’re trying to build a lean startup, creating the first version of your product without taking any VC funding. You’re working after-hours while still doing freelance work to pay the bills. You can’t very well ask your team members to pick up and move to your location – or even commute to an office – while they are working purely for equity. Remote collaboration may be the only way to get the talent you need while staying on a shoestring budget.
  2. You are building a software company in one of the great tech hub cities, and you’ve realized it’s hard to find talent at any price because everyone with any skill is already happily employed. By spreading your net wider, you can find great talent from less tech-saturated locales.
  3. You’ve realized that most workplaces are biased towards those who are blessed with the ability to leave the house for most of the day and move about freely and easily, and you want to level the playing field. People with disabilities, their caregivers, and parents of young children are often ready and able to join the workforce, but they are hobbled by their inability to make a daily commute. For people in this situation, remote work is the great equalizer.
  4. You want experienced help. You can get a college fresh-out – unmarried and unfettered – to do just about anything. Move anywhere, work long hours, live in a tiny apartment with three roommates in order to afford big-city rent. But more experienced knowledge workers, who have been around the block a few times and proven their worth, often have more attachments. They may have kids, or strong ties to a community. They may have settled in a city they particularly like and want to put down roots in. If you are open to letting the work go to the workers, instead of having the workers come to to the work, you may be able to attract seasoned pros who are as particular about where they live as they are about where they work.
  5. You have clients in multiple time zones. I recently spoke to the CEO of a small startup that maintains offices in both California and Spain. Why such a large separation for a small team? Because they have clients in both Europe and America. If your customer base is spread out, your team may need to be as well.
  6. You want to save money on an office. Maintaining office space costs money, money that you can divert to marketing, computer hardware, or hiring more talent if you eschew physical office space and opt to go completely virtual.
  7. You want to offer your team members the flexibility to work in their optimal environment. Not everyone functions best in a cubicle or team room. Some people do their best thinking on a park bench, in a coffee shop, or from their carefully furnished studio. Remote collaboration gives them the freedom to work the way they work best.
  8. You like to travel. Some people jut can’t stand still for long. If you want to keep a company running while touring the wonders of the world, you’re going to need to get good at working remotely.
  9. You want to grow with the same team over the course of many years. Even if you all start out in San Francisco, people don’t or can’t always stay in the same place. Someone may decide they like the Hawaiian climate better, or someone else may move back to rural Indiana to take care of aging parents. If you are open to remote work, you may be able to keep the team together even as they scatter geographically.
  10. You want more time in your days. The ability to work part- or full-time from home frees up time that would otherwise be spent tied up in commuter traffic. Remote workers get to spend more time with their families even as they spend the same amount of time on the job.

What’s your favorite reason to work on a dispersed team?

Title image by Bonnie Natko

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3 Responses to Ten Reasons to Assemble a Dispersed Team

  1. Jim Gay says:

    I agree with this. The butts-in-seats driven work environment focuses on the wrong thing.

  2. Mike Taus says:

    Avdi, great article. Here are a few more reasons that I find compelling:

    1. You want to work with great talent, regardless of location. So why “settle” for only the pool of people that live near you OR try to relocate individuals from their homes.

    2. Working with people from across the globe means that you can escape the echo chamber of the tech hubs like the Bay Area, NY or L.A. – and you have access to a wider variety of opinions and insights.

    3. Larger socioeconomic trends point to the fact that smart, capable people are leaving the city and moving to the rural and suburban areas (http://goo.gl/Qsrp5). Living outside the major metro areas is healthier, more cost-effective, family-friendly and affords a higher quality of life. While it can be difficult to find great talent in your own small town, it is pretty easy to find other like minded individuals that have similar life priorities and great skills, but don’t love the big city.

    4. Because working for a monolithic corporation that is driven by shareholder profits means that you must compromise your ethics. Working as a distributed team represents the antithesis to (or perhaps the cure for) the consolidation and dehumanization of the 20th century business model.

    And so many more.

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