Sqwiggle, an online collaboration software tool for remote workers, created its first-ever webisode called Remote and Distributed Teams—Behind the Business.
The challenges of remote working.
Without being in close physical proximity, communication can become cloudy among team members, admits Chen, whose entire team telecommutes. Sherwani added that synchronicity is key when managing a distributed team to ensure that telecommuting team members are effective and in sync. “Now that we are in the same time zone, it’s a lot easier,” says Sherwani. “Even if workers are not in the office, they are a click or an IM away.”
How to integrate new employees into a distributed team.
When everyone is working from his or her home office—or a local Starbucks—it can be harder for a new hire to jump easily into the mix and start working. “They tend to feel isolated in the beginning,” says Boyd. In order to ensure that new hires feel like part of the team, Sqwiggle makes an effort to speak to them every day so that they don’t feel alone. Chen, who recently hired someone to work remotely from Germany, actually flew in the new employee to New York City to do a company-wide face-to-face.
Sherwani said that his remote team at Screenhero does things a little differently. “We found that pairing people up on a project helps people to learn more about each other and how they think,” says Sherwani. “It was a mechanism to encourage social ties within team members.”
The pros and cons of a worldwide distributed team.
There are benefits and disadvantages to having team members spread out from San Francisco to Shanghai. The major advantage is that there will always be someone who is working during the 24-hour cycle, but obviously one major disadvantage is that if you need to get info from a colleague ASAP, your colleague may be off the clock—and sleeping. Foster agreed, adding, “Customer support could be better suited for different time zones, whereas something that requires a lot of collaboration might need workers to be in the same time zone.”
As telecommuting jobs grow in popularity, more and more workers will work from home and be a part of distributed teams. The good news is that technology is also improving, making it easier to work from home and for bosses to manage a distributed team that much more easily.
FlexJobs Career Writer