How Does a Distributed Workforce Function?

Sabrina Dorronsoro
Sabrina Dorronsoro
Published on 
2.6.2022

Distributed Workforce Team Member

In a distributed workforce, people are spread out across different locations as a strategy for meeting company goals. Distributed workforces may be fully remote, or they may be located in different branch offices. 

Other distributed workforce models use co-working spaces. Some distributed teams are a combination of all of the above: some people work in-person at the office, some work from home, and some use a desk in a shared office space.

Distributed work models can allow companies to extend business hours across multiple time zones, or offer 24/7 services like customer support. A distributed workforce model also allows companies to hire top talent regardless of where they live. As remote work becomes increasingly popular, many enterprises are choosing distributed work models to help them increase efficiency and run lean. 

Benefits

The flexibility that comes with a distributed workforce offers many advantages, to both managers and employers. Benefits include:

  • Lower overhead: Needing less physical office space translates into significant cost savings for your organization, whether you rent or own. Plus, you’ll spend less on office supplies and utilities. 
  • Higher productivity: When people have more control over where and how they work, they’re more efficient and productive.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: Flexible work arrangements enable a better work/life balance, especially for workers with caregiving responsibilities. And without a long commute to and from work, people are less stressed and have more time to themselves. In fact, Forbes reports that allowing remote work increases employee happiness by up to 20%. 
  • Expanded applicant pool: When teams are distributed, hiring managers have access to a larger base of talented applicants, rather than limiting their search to residents of a single city.

Challenges

Having a distributed workforce can present some challenges. These might include:

  • Communication: In a traditional office environment, it’s easy to just stop by someone’s desk when you need a quick check-in. When people are working remotely, good communication requires more planning and intentionality. Weekly one-on-one meetings can help managers maintain open lines of communication with their teams and address problems as they arise. 
  • Fostering company culture: Without in-person meetings and gatherings, it can be difficult for people to get to know one another and feel like a part of the team. Managers can get ahead of this by publicly recognizing people who are excelling, as well as having teams meet online both for work and fun.

4 Strategies for effective hybrid management

Many people are likely to support a shift from an in-person model to a distributed workforce arrangement. But it can be tough for managers, who may be unsure about how to support their team when they aren’t seeing them in person each day. These tips can help leaders manage effectively:

  1. Establish guidelines for remote work: Let people know the expectations about video calls, chat, and text. Be clear upfront so bad habits don’t sink in.
  2. Set deadlines: Give people clear deadlines so you don’t have to micromanage them over chat or email.
  3. Keep your calendar updated: Let people know when you’re available, and when you aren’t. If a meeting is canceled, update your calendar accordingly. 
  4. Build relationships: If some people are working at the office, fully remote teams may feel left out. Ensure updates are communicated to everyone on your team, regardless of where they work, and set dedicated times for team-wide meetings and collaboration.

Help your distributed team succeed

If you’re looking for ways to manage a distributed workforce more effectively, Robin is here to help. From a single platform, you can map out your offices, manage workspaces, send company-wide announcements, and let people reserve desks and meeting rooms. 

Robin offers robust tools for mapping and wayfinding and has powerful insights and reporting to help you understand resource utilization. 

To learn more, schedule a demo with us today.