The Case for Building a Distributed Workforce

The Case for Building a Distributed Workforce

Written by: Justin Reynolds

A lot of folks have the same misconception about remote workers: They’re lazy, unmotivated people who sleep the day away and, in the rare instances they actually do any work, they’re usually in their pajamas sitting on the couch giving less than their all.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Because of the benefits distributed workers bring to the table, many companies have already decided to at least allow some of their employees to tackle work remotely every now and again. Others are transforming into fully distributed teams that don’t even have a central office. In fact, a recent Entrepreneur article suggests that 59% of organizations plan to have more than half of their teams working remotely by 2020.

If you’ve never bought into the notion that a distributed team can help take organizations to the next level, it’s time to rethink your opinion. Here’s why:

1. Distributed teams save companies a ton of money

Office space is expensive. According to a recent report, the median rent expense for startups is $6,100 a month — or more than $73,000 a year. Then you have to pay for electricity, furniture, servers, office supplies, and an office manager. Slowly but surely, all of those expenses add up into a considerable chunk of change to the point it could cripple your cash flow.

However, when you build a distributed team and everyone works remotely, you will save a ton of money on unnecessary office expenses. You can use that money to grow your business however you want. Hire additional employees. Invest heavily in marketing. Develop new products. The sky’s the limit.

2. You are more likely to secure VC cash too

As office space becomes even more expensive — particularly in places like San Francisco and New York City — venture capitalists are tightening their purse strings and funding fewer companies, according to a recent item in The Guardian. This makes sense. Put yourself in their shoes. What’s the point of investing in a company only to have that company funnel a significant chunk of your investment to a landlord?

Companies that decide to build a remote workforce are more likely to secure VC funding simply because they don’t have to spend so much money on rent and associated office utilities and other costs. At the very least, having a distributed team shows potential investors that you’re agile, adaptable, cost conscious, and modern. 

3. You can hire candidates with more talent potential

When an organization requires every employee to show up to work at an office every day, the talent pool that they are able to hire from shrinks considerably. For the most part, you can only hire people that work in the town or city you’re set up in. Maybe if you’re lucky, you can convince a few talented folks to commute an hour each way to work. But that’s it.

Distributed companies have a much larger talent pool to choose from. You can literally hire workers who are living anywhere in the world — which makes it easier to make the right hiring decisions.

Additionally, one of the perks top talent is most interested in is the ability to make their own schedules and work from wherever they want to work from. This is why the best candidates are attracted to distributed companies.

4. Distributed employees will enjoy a better work-life balance

Distributed companies are known to allow their employees to make their own flexible schedules — something that is proven to boost engagement. Sure, you may need to have all-hands calls every now and again where employees are required to be available during certain blocks of time. But that’s something that every employee understands.

While many companies require their employees to be at work during specific hours (e.g., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), does it really matter when your employees tackle their work? As long as they do a great job without missing any deadlines or meetings, why can’t they work the hours that are most convenient to their lives?

Your employees won’t reach their full potential if work forces them to routinely miss important events in their personal lives (e.g., their kid’s soccer game) simply because they’ll be unhappy. With a distributed team, it’s easier to embrace flexible schedules — which will improve your team’s collective work-life balance.

Related: Can Zoning-Out Make You More Productive?

5. They will also be more productive

Studies show that remote workers are happier — and therefore more productive — than employees who are forced to head to the office every day. In fact, according to our research, a vast majority of workers (91%) say they get more done when they work from home.

Anyone who’s ever had to commute a long way to a job knows how soul-crushing those trips can be. In addition to dealing with rush-hour traffic, long commutes can add a lot of time to your workday.

When you’re able to work from home, your commute disappears completely. Instead of spending two hours of their day traveling to and from work and eight hours in the office, the remote worker might decide to clock nine hours from the comfort of their own home. Their day would still be shorter and your company will benefit from an extra hour of work. Multiply that across your organization for an entire year and you begin to see how much more productive your company can become when it’s distributed.

6. Distributed teams can appear bigger than they actually are

If your company is based on the East Coast and everyone works at the office, you can’t provide your customers with round-the-clock service. Everyone sleeps during the same hours.

Distributed companies, on the other hand, can consist of employees in practically every time zone. This enables organizations to take advantage of time zones and provide seamless support for their customers whenever it’s needed. In this light, a distributed company can appear to be much larger than it actually is just because two or three people will always be there to answer the proverbial phone (or respond to the email). 

7. You can look forward to exciting team get-togethers

Just because your team is distributed doesn’t mean that you never have the opportunity to hang out with them in real life.

Zapier, for example, is a SaaS company that has workers distributed all across the globe. Twice a year, the company has summits that all workers attend. After getting to know someone digitally, employees get to meet their colleagues in the flesh. These summits are events that workers look forward to all year long. To date, Zapier’s team has been on retreats in California, Alabama, Utah, Texas, Washington, and Colorado, among other places.

So in addition to getting to meet the people you collaborate with online, distributed teams that hold company-wide summits get to travel to a lot of interesting places they might otherwise never visit.

Doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?

Dora Wang
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Dora is a Content Marketing Specialist at TINYpulse who writes and researches about ways to make employees happier. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seat ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, March 19-23, 2018

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  — Chris Shuba

2. The Lies Spread by Bankers About Cryptocurrencies

I had a chat with The Financial Times the other day, and provided lots of background as to why I don’t think cryptocurrencies are the choice of criminals. The comment that was reported was the following ... — Chris Skinner

3. Alternative Investments? You May Need New Shock Absorbers!

During the tumultuous red and green gyrations of the capital markets this year have your clients anxiously called to ask: “What’s going on with my portfolio?” What do you do when the usually smooth ride in your luxury automobile becomes as bumpy as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in the Happiest Place on Earth? What does the average investor do? — Ted Parker

4. Why Fear of Inflation Is Rattling Investors

Inflation is a bad thing, right? It make things more expensive, right? For those of us of, let’s say, a certain vintage, we recall the runaway inflation of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. So why does the Federal Reserve – in charge of managing the country’s currency and value thereof – actually try to create inflation? It’s called the inflation targeting and it matters to your money. — Bill Acheson

5. The Best Retirement Investments for a Steady Stream of Income

As you near your 60’s, your prime earning and saving years will transition into a period of time where you get to enjoy the “fruits of your labor,” a.k.a retirement. We call this segueing from accumulation to decumulation, the period when you will be drawing from your accumulated nest egg. Dana Anspach

6. An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments. — Tom Lydon

7. 8 Winning Questions You Should Be Asking Every Prospect

It’s not enough for your salespeople to be product experts, they also need to be capable of having the kind of conversations that position them as business experts and even strategic resources. — Lisa Rose

8. 10 Steps to Successful Strategic Alliances

Business growth doesn’t come from wishful thinking. As you know, it takes a lot of hard work. The growth of your business is not an option – it is a necessity. Coordinating the right mix of strategies to gain market share and improve client acquisition rates is essential to advance your firm in today’s economy. — Michelle Mosher​​​​​​​

9. Keep It Light: Harnessing Humor for Financial Marketing Success

It’s undoubtedly true that investors’ financial security is no laughing matter, and this is reflected in the stolid, dour, reliable imagery and branding that is, by and large, the industry standard. This is hardly surprising—investors need to believe they’re placing their hard-earned money in the hands of experienced, trustworthy professionals. — Alexandra Levis​​​​​​​

10. Do the Economics of a Move to Independence Really Add Up?

The number one question advisors ask when exploring a move to independence is how the economics compare to accepting a recruiting package from a major firm. It’s certainly a valid concern, because while the recruiting deals being offered by the wirehouses are down, it is still very possible for a top advisor to get a really attractive hard-to-pass-up offer. — Mindy Diamond

11. Four Big Reasons Why Short-Term Muni Bonds Should Excite You

Municipal bonds might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sexy investment. They don’t typically command news headlines like the stock market or bitcoin. — Frank Holmes

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio