Distributed Workforce - Everything you need to know

Distributed Workforce - Everything you need to know

Effective collaboration and an empowered workforce lead to innovation and employee engagement. Companies that have adopted hybrid work plans have also changed their strategies for getting everyone on the same page.

What is a distributed workforce?

The term "distributed workforce" refers to employees who work from multiple locations, including their homes and satellite offices. Nowadays, what was once referred to as telecommuting is increasingly evolving into a collaborative work environment. This new paradigm was fueled in part by the CoVid-19 pandemic and facilitated by a new generation of tools such as Zoom. Co-located workers are the opposite of distributed workers and share some physical space.

There are several types of distributed workforce companies: those that employ traditional office workers, those that employ mobile salespeople and executives, and those that employ workers who work in shared workspaces. Among them is a set of software and connectivity tools that enables them to collaborate on projects. These tools are used to hold ad-hoc meetings virtually, schedule conference calls, and seamlessly share files and folders.

Communicating with a distributed workforce

Communication is a very important aspect when it comes to reaching the team's full potential and getting the job done in the best way possible. Employee engagement is the key to almost everything. The company's main focus should be to establish an efficient and reliable communication system. Distributed teams can be just as productive and collaborative as teams who work within the same four walls thanks to technological innovations. The key is to do it right, or you'll end up with an unproductive, unhappy, and very siloed team.

Communication with remote teams is impossible without the team's digital toolbox. Creating a tech stack that provides multiple communication lanes is crucial to ensuring that employees don't fall victim to "out of sight, out of mind." There are many remote work tools that can be used to collaborate on documents, conduct video conferencing, use instant messaging, schedule meetings, and schedule meetings.

Distributed workforce communicating tools

You can use the already famous video conferencing tool Zoom. It's a great way to get face time with your team when you can’t actually be face-to-face. The tool supports both small and large groups in video conferencing with flexible features and pricing for all types of teams.

To go along with your video tool you’ll need a chat tool like Slack which can replace more casual conversations you'd have at work. By using specific channels, you can have quick, one-on-one conversations or ongoing group discussions. Depending on your needs, you can create a channel for your department, a channel for company-wide socializing, or a channel for quick company announcements. Emojis and GIFs can also make your Slack chats more fun.

Consider Incognito for Slack this will improve your team’s feedback culture directly in Slack.

Google tools

For seamless meeting scheduling, distributed teams can use Google Calendar to share and view team members' calendars. View all the people's calendars at once to find an open time slot if you need to schedule a meeting with multiple people.

In addition, Google Calendar allows users to indicate their working hours. You will receive an alert if you attempt to schedule a meeting with someone outside of their working hours (useful when working with team members in different time zones). Additionally, you can schedule Zoom meetings directly from your calendar with the Zoom Scheduler Chrome extension.

A virtual team must consider document accessibility. With a team collaboration tool like Google Drive, you can create and store Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. All of which can be accessed by multiple team members simultaneously and updated in real-time. For important documents, logo images, and so on, you can organize Google Drive with folders and shared team drives. Confluence, Dropbox, and Dropbox Paper may also be useful for remote teams.

Distributed workforce best practices

Tools and technology have enabled employees to work productively in a distributed and/or remote environment. For a distributed workforce to succeed, it will take more than simply downloading Zoom and having a good internet connection. Below are five best practices for distributed workforces.

Clearly define everyone's goals. Goal-setting is crucial to the success of a distributed workforce. The goals should be very specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.  Another good practice is to keep track of their improvement and productivity. As mentioned earlier keep in mind to utilize tech tools that allow simple and quick interaction within the team.

Recurring meetings and check-ins should be implemented. The key to success is communication. Communication should flow between all team members, regardless of their physical location. It is becoming increasingly important as workers are spread across different time zones and locations. To include everyone on the team, consider Slack daily standups, end-of-day status emails, all-hands meetings, check-ins with direct reports, and virtual meetings–with video when possible. When a meeting is just 1 click away it’s easy to overbook your team and create “Zoom Fatigue” Save meetings for collaborations, ideations, and inter-team updates. When context, nuance, and shared experience are required you’ll get the most out of a meeting.

Managing a distributed workforce

Make sure to hire good communicators, team players, and most importantly professional people. Your team will be easier to manage a distributed workforce if everybody takes full responsibility for what they are assigned to do.

Depending on the application you pick to communicate with the team, make sure to be transparent with the whole team, and make sure to let them know that they should do that too. Discussions must be inclusive rather than exclusive. A sidebar chat is preferable in some circumstances, but avoid the impulse to make chats secret. Along the same lines, you should remember to praise in public and correct in private. When someone has gone above and beyond, shout them out to the whole team! If someone has fallen behind, however, don’t chastise them publically or you may create resentment.

Distributed workforce companies

The way we manage our teams has significantly evolved. Huge companies like Automatic, Zapier, Buffer, Gitlab, Stack overflow, and many more are some of the well-known companies that have a distributed workforce. 

What are your thoughts on the distributed workforce, have you updated your work culture, or are you still in the office every day?

Other popular resources
Feedback book cover
Free eBook:
Is anonymous feedback harmful?
Purple right arrow
Feedback box
6 ways to fix a one sided leadership meeting
Purple right arrow
Don't just read 🤓
Upgrade your own feedback culture!
Add to Slack button
Add to Slack
Try it FREE for 2 weeks!