Our world is constantly changing. In today’s generation, businesses are taking advantage of technology more than ever. Telecommunication and location-independence have become a more common way of doing work. One of the things that some businesses have applied is Distributed Workforce. In this article, you will get to understand what it means, how it works and why it can work for you.
So What is a Distributed Workforce?
Put simply, it’s when employees of a company work from different locations. A distributed workforce goes beyond the limits of a traditional office setup. They can be working from home, coffee shops and libraries, from other countries and so on.
However, a distributed workforce is different from a virtual business. With a virtual business, employees are location-independent but aren’t connected primarily. But with a distributed workforce, a networking infrastructure is used to connect the workers, making it easy for them to work together. They use a sharing software which is called SaaS or “software as a service”. A SaaS has several functions such as:
- Sharing files in between teams and workers
- Enable workers to access the company’s database
- Use telecommunications
- Use teleconferencing
- IT management
- Access to accounting
- Check web analytics, emails and schedules
- Manage web content
A distributed workforce can have both challenges and advantages for your company. But a lot of businesses still choose it and here’s why.
Distributed Workforce: Employer Benefits
A distributed workforce can decrease your spending. It’s a great setup to avoid the expenses of putting up and maintaining a physical office. Instead of buying office supplies, furniture and renting a space, you can use your funds for more important needs. Not only does it help you but your employees as well. It will save them time and money from traveling to the office and back.
A Larger Pool of Talented People
Sometimes it’s hard to find someone you’d see fit for the job. There could be a scarcity in talent within your area. With a distributed workforce, you get an access to a large pool of talented people and a wider range of options. You have the freedom to hire anyone from other cities or countries that could actually do the job well.
No Downtime for Unexpected Circumstances
One of the hindrances to having a physical company is being forced to stop your operations when disasters occur. You could lose a client or employees who are pressured to find an alternative for work due to their ongoing needs. But if you have a distributed workforce, disasters can have little to no impact on your company. The work can continue in spite of the situation because the rest of your team members can keep doing the job. What’s more, since your company consists of an online team, if any unexpected crisis’s occur, you are much more likely to be able to sort it out quickly and efficiently, since they’re aren’t technically any ‘out of office’ hours.
In spite of the advantages mentioned, some companies still feel hesitant of choosing Distributed Workforce because of the following reasons:
No Face-to-Face Interaction
Not being able to work with your team in real time could be a problem. If you’re one of those employers who work better when communicating face to face, this could be a hindrance for you. However here’s a few easy-to-implement options you could use:
- Google Hangout – or similar similar video conferencing tools that allow weekly face-to-face meetings
- Slack– a social network for businesses that facilitates social collaboration via open team channels, private channels, direct messages, file sharing and more.
- Skype – an instant messaging service that enables you to do video calls, phone calls and text messaging. You can also see when team members online and what time it is based on their location.
- Dropbox or cloud-based services – this gives all employees regardless of location access to notes, notifications of file changes, live editing etc
Some information is sensitive and is only meant for selected people in your team. There is a risk of having information leaked or stolen, if someone gets unauthorized access through a members’ work device. Thankfully, there is a solution that you can tap on. DaaS or “desktop as a service” gives an additional security and creates a virtual workstation for each of your employees. It stores all the files on the server of the service company. It can be accessible anywhere but restricted as to not compromise the data security.
Less Professional Appearance
One of the benefits of working together physically is being able to enjoy unified communication. So when conversations need to be connected to certain people, it’ll be easy for you to pass it on. Unfortunately, it’s not the case when it comes to distributed workforce. There isn’t the same infrastructure for collaborative communication with clients in meetings. However, there are ways to make your team appear like they’re all in one place. You can use a virtual phone system such as the phone tree and voicemail. These options can put a call on hold, transfer calls and create conferencing between landlines regardless of location.
Distributed Workforce: Employee Benefits
The benefits of a distributed workforce isn’t limited to employers. Working in a distributed workforce can give a few but worthwhile benefits in your work life including:
For many, an “ideal” job consists of being able to work remotely. For one, you don’t have to spend your time and money travelling to a physical office every day. You can work as long as you have an access to high speed internet connection and a good laptop. You get the freedom to choose where it suits you best. This is one of the privileges you’re able to enjoy when working with a distributed workforce company or team.
Contribute to Success
In a distributed workforce, you get to become a part of their success. Each employee is valued by the company as a core member. Your ideas, thoughts and efforts matter to them and it’s fulfilling to know that you’re valuable to them even if you’re not in a higher position.
Opportunity to Grow Together
Distributed Workforce teams work and grow together. In spite of the distance, they help build each other up in their tasks. So as your company grows, you get to grow with them as well.
Distributed Workforce Companies
With the growing improvements and usage of technology, some companies have found a distributed workforce to be the best way to go. Here are two examples of companies who have built their business with a remote workforce:
Automattic. is a blogging service provider. They mainly use WordPress to provide blogs for their clients. It consists of 160 remote workforce employees who work from different parts of the world. Their team gathers together once a year for brainstorming and team building events.
Treehouse Island Incorporated provides affordable technology education to people around the world. It has more than 58 employees who work from different locations. Treehouse values every team member’s idea or suggestion. That is why they would allow anyone from their team to propose new projects for the company.
It seems to be inevitable that as technology continues to improve, to become faster and more accessible, working remotely will become of a more feasible and “mainstream” option for companies and individuals around the world. Like any company, a distributed workforce has its own set of problems. However, as mentioned above, there are plenty of services and systems built to overcome such communication and management issues that are incredibly effective and affordable. Thus it appears that the benefits of a distributed workforce is unquestionably evident and may very well be the future of work.
Here’s a great video from Steve about how he landed the ideal remote job:
Christine has been working in the field of freelance for just over 7 years, specializing in copy-writing, social media and voice-overs.
Describing herself as a "social media bee 24/7", Christine has an undying passion for photography and music.