While distributed or virtual teams have been in the picture for a while, companies have never adopted remote work to this extent as you see now, amid the evolving coronavirus situation.
According to a 2019 workforce assessment report by IWG, flexible working arrangements are quite the deciding factor for employees when evaluating new career opportunities. And businesses are finding that it’s a winning proposition for them too. Thanks to the advances in technology, so much is possible now.
Distributed teams are spread across geographies and stay connected via online means, whereas in co-located teams, the staff work together at one physical location. Perhaps, the most important distinction between distributed and traditional teams is that the former requires more advanced planning for it to be up and running.
Why have distributed teams
A diverse team with people at different locations and cultures brings more perspectives to the table —a definite advantage. Also, distributed teams reduce operational costs by often involving remote workers or freelancers.
As they say, the sun never sets on the internet, making it easier for distributed teams to work in harmony and establish a global presence, an essential attribute for staffing and IT. With predefined workflows, it becomes easier for team members to track their tasks and make sure every task moves into the next phase smoothly.
With increasing operational costs in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs across the globe, startups are more inclined to operate distributed teams. Also, for employees, this is a more economically feasible option, saving on their commute and not having to find typically pricey places near these hubs.
At times, small and medium companies struggle to tempt top talent into joining their firms because they can’t always compete with the biggies in terms of the compensation they offer. By operating in a distributed team mode, these SMBs can hire talent from across the globe and build a top-notch workforce.
How to hire and manage distributed teams
There are two types of distributed teams. The first kind has multiple offices scattered across geographies, while the other has part-time remote workers who provide additional support to an existing traditional team.
Needless to say, the recruitment strategy for both cases will be different.
As a recruiter, while hiring in the first scenario, you can look for local staffing firms that can help you fill the job vacancies in their localities. On the other hand, while planning to hire for remote teams, recruiters don’t have to limit their search to a particular region and can access a wider talent pool.
But for both, it’s important to hire candidates who are flexible with their working hours and can work with minimal supervision. This means asking some basic questions before considering the applicants. AI and NLP powered chatbots can help by pre-screening candidates.
With an applicant tracking system or ATS, you can automate the initial screening process and focus on those who best fit the job description. For example, the users of the Oorwin platform are shown the best-fit candidates at the top as the AI-enabled algorithm ranks resume based on how well they match the job description.
Getting the teams started
Onboarding is a crucial aspect for distributed teams as it allows them to be more efficient by engaging with them. Digital onboarding ensures a seamless process, helping employees contribute from day one.
Teams thrive on proper communication, and with cloud-based tools like Slack, Google Meet, Skype, WebEx, TeamViewer, and Microsoft Teams, setting up a good communication channel is inexpensive and easy. Other collaborative software — like Jira, PivotalTracker, Workzone — can help teams work on projects simultaneously by helping them plan and prioritize tasks.
Keeping track of various performance metrics is necessary to ensure a smooth workflow while dealing with distributed teams. In a distributed team, it is imperative for the manager/ team lead to define KPIs of individual team members and provide them with resources to meet those goals.
For managers, being accessible to the entire distributed team is almost as important as defining expectations for each team member. Managers can overcome this challenge by setting up daily status update calls, video meetings, or virtual brainstorming sessions.
When handling a remote team, the focus should be on the outcome as it’s impossible to manage every task in a distributed team. However, various project management methods can help you manage distributed teams better.
Distributed teams are here to stay
Distributed teams may face some challenges in setting up effective communication or collectively working effectively towards a common goal. But by introducing a cloud-based ATS/CRM platform into your business process, businesses can increase overall productivity, improve the employee, client and candidate experience, expedite your business expansion plans, and streamline various functions of your teams.