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Use tech and virtual leadership to manage distributed teams

Communication is key for the success of distributed teams, and technology can play a pivotal role, writes Cory Hymel.

6 min read


distributed teams

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We know that distributed teams — groups of people who work together but are not in the same physical location — are here to stay to help companies remain agile and ahead of their game despite the current global economic slowdown. Distributed teams can thrive and work efficiently when there is good communication. We see companies open up to applying new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to facilitate better communication, connection and collaboration between team members, no matter where they are in the world.

Cory Hymel

These technologies are having a profound impact on the way businesses operate and interact with their customers, and it is changing the way we live, work and play. As these technologies become more mainstream, it’s important to understand their implications and how they can be used to advantage in today’s business landscape.

Let’s explore how these new technologies can be leveraged to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness, as well as how they are reshaping the world as we know it.

Smarter operations of distributed teams with AI

AI is not just limited to machines, but it is also used by other companies to create solutions that can reason, learn and act on their own. AI allows for machines, software and platforms to learn from data and experience, as well as understand human language. 

These smart AI applications can boost online collaboration tools and platforms to make it easier for teams to work together. AI can also help leaders and managers track and understand data, analyze them efficiently to make better decisions and be on top of everything. AI can centralize and compile data from hundreds to thousands of data points and make it accessible to everyone, or those with permission for access. AI can then process these sets of data into easily digestible reports, forecasts and recommendations to improve operations.

It can also automate menial and repetitive tasks which can free up employees to focus on higher-level work. By doing so, companies are improving their operational and cost efficiencies. 

Next level work with blockchain solutions

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows for secure, transparent and tamper-proof data-keeping. Think of it as a database that is made up of blocks containing an information record that is chained together, on top of each other, which can be accessed by the public. It can improve transparency, trust and security in storing data and information.


Blockchain in itself can be used as a database and can be a way to easily trade or complete transactions without the costly middlemen services. For example, an Australia-based energy company called Power Ledger is using a permissioned blockchain network to enable peer-to-peer trading of solar energy given the rising supply generated by Australian households. Compared to sourcing from the grid, houses with solar rooftops can have the chance to be profitable.

Applied to distributed work teams, blockchain can store massive volumes of data records for companies, organize them and can even transfer them from one person or company to another. There is also an option to make the database transparent in a public blockchain, or give access only to your company teams, members, clients and other stakeholders in a permissioned blockchain.

Smart contracts and DAO

Smart contracts and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or DAO, go hand-in-hand in automating tasks for companies and teams working towards a singular mission.

DAO is a type of blockchain-based organization where people with the same advocacy, purpose or goal come together, have a shared bank account and have equal voting rights through holding governance tokens. This organizational structure is complemented by smart contracts, which are a collection of codes put up on the blockchain network, designed to automatically enforce actions when conditions and agreements in the contract are met.

DAOs and smart contracts can be applied to improve the operations of solid distributed teams when all members have a buy-in in a particular goal or mission. Under a DAO, everyone can vote on decisions, and smart contracts can automatically enforce tasks decided by the majority of the votes which makes for hassle-free and automated processes. Such tasks can be carrying out contract terms and agreements with providers and suppliers, or completing a transaction based upon the agreed cost or transaction value by the majority of votes, among others.


Non-fungible token or NFT is a unique digital asset on the blockchain network that can represent or hold any type of value, either physical or digital. They are one-of-a-kind tokens that usually hold value and benefits such as images, videos, contracts, personal information, health records, digital tickets and event passes and many more. It can even be used in different metaverses (or virtual worlds) as avatars, wearables, digital land parcels and so on. 

There have been a lot of NFT use cases in recent times, and some companies have used the tokens in their customer loyalty and reward programs. In the same regard, businesses can also use NFTs as an instrument to foster loyalty and engagement from team members. NFTs can be issued to performing or loyal team members which can unlock future rewards such as free merchandise, free treat every year for life, free tickets and passes to events and so on. 

NFTs can also be gamified to increase team engagement — whether to play a game with NFT rewards or have NFT playable avatars to win in-game prizes. The sky is the limit as to how creative you can be with NFTs in amplifying employee engagement and retention.

Virtual leadership 

With the rise of technology, more businesses are being conducted online. That means leaders must learn how to effectively lead their teams from a distance.

Virtual leadership is a combination of relationship-focused and task-focused leadership. Trust is key to successful global and distributed teamwork. An effective leader takes on the roles of conductor, catalyst, coach and champion. These roles are essential to building connection and unity with members and promoting a stronger bond and trust between team members. This type of leadership inspires trust and confidence among team members, making them feel safe and cared for, which leads to higher employee satisfaction, retention and better performance despite the distance.

AI, blockchain solutions and virtual leadership are all tools that can be used to manage distributed teams. By utilizing these tools, businesses can overcome the challenges that come with managing a team that is not based in a single location and can also reap the benefits of more efficient work teams leading to better performance and company growth.


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

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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