It’s no secret that the way we work has been changing rapidly in recent years. Advances in technology have made it possible for more and more employees to work remotely in distributed teams, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. At the same time, the traditional nine-to-five workday is becoming increasingly obsolete, as employees are given more flexibility in when and where they work.
These changes have had a profound impact on the way companies operate and the way employees live and work. One of the most significant changes to the workplace is the rise of remote work.
The rise of remote work
A Pew Research Center survey revealed that “roughly 6 in 10 US workers who say their jobs can mainly be done from home (59%) are working from home all or most of the time. The vast majority of these workers (83%) say they were working from home even before the omicron variant started to spread in the United States.” Even though more workplaces have reopened, most employees are working from home by choice.
Advances in technology play a big role in the increasing adoption of remote work. Employees can easily stay connected to their work from anywhere in the world. The costs of setting up a remote office also have decreased. In the past, workers who wanted to work from home had to invest in expensive equipment, like a separate phone line and fax machine. Now, all you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
As this trend persists even after the pandemic, more and more employers are realizing the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely and building distributed teams that are connected from around the world. Remote workers are often more productive and have lower levels of absenteeism. They also have lower levels of stress and turnover.
There are many possible ways to set up remote work. One common setup is working from a dedicated home office, where employees have a dedicated space in their homes that is set up for work. You can set up where it is most convenient for you, and where you think you can work most efficiently.
Another example is using a co-working space that remote workers can rent or lease for a specific period. This is a good option for those who want the social interaction of an office, but do not have the space or budget to set up their own home office.
Companies show success with distributed teams
The pandemic has spurred a new way of thinking about work, with many workers now choosing to work remotely. Many businesses, too, are opting for a hybrid work strategy or fully distributed teams model.
Companies that successfully implemented the distributed team setups are now able to manage projects around the clock, from anywhere in the globe. Major companies such as 3M, Hubspot, Reddit and Spotify have adapted to this work trend and have offered either a permanent remote or hybrid work setup.
Reddit shifted to a permanent hybrid setup in October 2020 where employees have the flexibility to work at home or in their preferred location. They can also report to the office. They were also one of the companies that announced that there will be no pay cuts for workers even if they choose to move away from their San Francisco or New York locations. This gave employees savings in time and money, as well as a better work-life balance.
Manufacturing company 3M introduced in October 2021 its “Work Your Way” program. This is a trust-based approach that lets employees create a schedule that helps them work when and where they can most effectively. This helps with operational efficiency as there are people who prefer to work in the morning to afternoon, even night until after midnight, which allows for better work delivery and creates more satisfied workers.
Technology company HubSpot also switched to a hybrid remote-office model in January 2021. HubSpot workers have three options. They can work in the office for three or more days per week and will have a dedicated desk for their workspace. Employees can come to work for two or fewer days per week, and will be assigned a “hotel desk.” Lastly, they can work full-time from home. Whether hybrid or a fully distributed work setup, companies can be cost-effective by reducing expenses for office real estate, electronics and supplies.
Music streaming platform Spotify launched its “Work from Anywhere” program in February 2021. Their employees can choose from working permanently at home, from the office or both. Flexible living choices are also available for employees who are changing locations.
By creating pro-employee programs like this, teams and members will be motivated to work for a company that looks out for their overall health and welfare. This will be beneficial in hitting organizational goals and delivering on the company’s mission in the long run. Adopting the distributed teams model can help companies find different kinds of talent and skill sets around the world, which can lead to superior and innovative products, services and solutions. We see this in other tech-forward companies that are outsourcing tech specialists from India, and customer support teams looking for friendly and adept English speakers in countries such as the Philippines.
As the US economy experiences a slowdown, companies need to be more agile and adaptable to survive. Traditional systems such as hiring, team management and the 9-to-5 work week are no longer enough to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the workplace.
The advantage of distributed teams
We collaborated with Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley to research “discursive diversity” among team members. This refers to their differences and how these diverse perspectives can help shape ideas, plans and strategies for the success of a project. Discursive diversity is just one of many factors that can determine the success or failure of a team or project, and this can be mostly seen in distributed teams.
A distributed teams model relies heavily on communication. It is crucial to adopt a leadership style and culture that fosters regularly keeping in touch with each other, and making everyone feel that they are valued members of the team.
Using reliable technology that can facilitate better communication and sharing of information and data also plays a big role in making distributed teams reach their highest potential. Online collaboration tools can help distributed teams become more efficient, more supportive of each other and accomplish high-quality output, which in turn can help propel companies into reaching their goals.
Companies need to be agile and adaptable to survive in today’s business climate. More fluid work models can help companies improve their team management and increase work efficiency and productivity. Team members are valuable assets that companies need to look after. Company leaders have to effectively manage and organize team members to bring out the best in them, which can attract more opportunities for business growth and success.
Cory Hymel serves as the vice president of product at Gigster, a company democratizing access to great software development. With over 600 engineers, Gigster helps startups to Fortune 500 companies unleash human cloud-driven innovation at a global scale. Follow him on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn and read his blog at https://gigster.com/blog.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.