Effective Distributed Team Management

Sometimes, company teams simply can’t keep up with their current workload and just need some extra hands to help get the job done. In many cases, the company doesn’t really have the time or means to recruit, hire, and pay for another in-house employee. Distributed teams thankfully help bridge this gap to assure success.

For effective distributed team management, companies must keep a few key things in mind. One of the most important is that they must strive to keep communication lines open and clear. This means having regular check-ins with team members, whether in person or via video conferencing, and being available to answer any questions or concerns.

Additionally, it’s critical to plan according to team members’ potentially different time zones. Considering different time zones helps everyone stay on the same page when setting meeting hours and deadlines.

Building trust among team members is also an essential part of setting up for success. Setting specific expectations and holding up the company’s part of the bargain fosters a climate where team members feel at ease working together to achieve shared objectives.

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What Are Distributed Teams?

A distributed team is a collection of individuals collaborating on projects as a unit but operating from different places. Sometimes this is an entire team or individuals via staff augmentation. No matter their makeup, distributed teams use various tools to promote internal communication and collaboration. 

These teams are often widely spread geographically, operating all around the world. They stand in contrast to co-located teams, where members collaborate physically from the same place.

An effective outsourced distributed team is always organized and efficient, with clear roles and responsibilities. Team members should understand the company’s products, services, and processes well. They should also learn about the company’s customer base and understand how to meet their needs.

How Do You Manage a Distributed Team?

To manage a distributed team, companies must enable their employees to do their best work by providing structure and support. A few helpful tips include:

  • Have a Successful Onboarding Procedure

    The onboarding procedure is the first step in successfully managing a distributed team. This provides outsourced or new team members with a solid foundation from which to grow as formal members of the group.

    Employees must complete their work effectively while maintaining communication for distributed work to be successful. For this reason, getting them started on the right foot is critical so that they can operate effectively alone and as a team. Before onboarding begins, companies should:

  • Send any supporting documents such as company policies, an introduction to workday procedures to help them prepare for their first day, instructional videos about the company culture, processes, and so on.
  • Help the distributed team members learn how to use the tools they’ll need for communication, cooperation, and the typical workday.
  • After onboarding, have frequent video check-ins to reassure the outsourced team that the in-house employees are there for them and will assist them whenever they need.

  • Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities

    It’s crucial to ensure that everyone on a distributed team is aware of their duties and positions within the company. Setting clear roles and expectations for a distributed team from the beginning is essential if hiring companies want to prevent unnecessary confusion, because these teams may include people working together from different regions of the world.

    Companies shouldn’t assume that the distributed team members inherently know how their job adds to the shared business values and goals or the motivation behind their actions. Leaders should make sure the team members understand so that they can then operate self-sufficiently, without constantly needing direction or monitoring.

  • Be Deliberate in Communication

    In contrast to traditional work settings where there are many opportunities for spontaneous communication, distributed work may necessitate a considerable conscious effort for team connection. Studies show that technology-enabled connection is far more difficult to maintain and employees may feel disconnected, lonely, and alienated if teams don’t value regular interaction.

    Hiring companies should establish ground rules, promote interaction between teams regularly via messaging apps and calls, and arrange frequent video meetings to keep all team members focused. Leaders should also make their expected level of communication clear to in-house and distributed teams, including the preferred response time, who to contact for what and when, and the expected online times for all involved parties.

    Additionally, they should make room for informal talks to strengthen team chemistry, such as online social games, virtual coffee shops, and other leisurely pursuits.

  • Use Appropriate Tools for Collaboration

    Use Appropriate Tools for Collaboration - The most crucial aspect of managing a distributed workforce is using the right tools to connect the in-house team with the distributed team. By developing a toolkit, companies establish a remote setting where their team easily works and communicates.

    The following are some necessary tools for distributed teams:

  • Software for group messaging – A feature-rich business messaging application helps teams to stay in touch at all times and maintain the flow of information, structured through a range of formal and informal channels.
  • Apps for video conferencing – Video call apps help businesses hold regular team meetings and as close to in-person check-ins as possible.
  • Secure document-sharing apps – Because distributed teams must always have access to crucial files, a platform like Google Drive helps keep everything structured, secure, and readily available.
  • Time-tracking tool – To keep everyone organized and on schedule in distributed teams, especially those with varied schedules, the hiring company and the outsourcing provider should agree on a time-tracking tool.
  • Project management platform – Tools for project management make it simple for teams to allocate tasks and update coworkers on their progress while giving higher-ups visibility.
  • Maintain Detailed Documentation

    This is crucial if some distributed team members get together for an in-person meeting and generate an idea, choice, or resolution. All teams should keep records of meetings to share among their team members and with other teams.

  • Create a Transparent Culture

    Transparency generates trust, which is essential for the success of both an in-house and distributed team. Leaders encourage their teams to assist with this by taking simple steps like communicating regularly and openly, discussing solutions with the full team, not downplaying difficult situations, and reviewing issues for better problem resolution in the future.

Agile and Distributed Teams

As the world advances further into the digital age and more companies run software as a service (SaaS) models, the need for a single office location diminishes. In today’s virtual world, it’s not uncommon to join teams distributed across the country or the globe, communicating with each other through video conferencing tools.

The fundamental tenet of an agile team is working toward a shared objective that can adapt to shifting client needs while the team remains flexible in their work practices. Agile teams use planning tools to collect requirements, report and manage issues, and track progress and quality.

There are a few key ways that agile and distributed teams work together to create successful outcomes. Communication is obviously critical for these team structures, especially when working with distributed members. They must have the ability to rely on one another for timely and accurate information to make decisions and take action. This means leaders take charge of setting up regular check-ins using video conferencing or other real-time tools in addition to having clear communication channels (such as dedicated project management software).

Because agile and distributed teams can span time zones and geographical areas, it’s important for companies to consider different time frames when planning workflows and timelines. For example, if team members are across the globe, project managers should stagger deadlines so that everyone has the ability to complete tasks during their regular working hours. Additionally, they may need to plan for the development work not working in a totally linear process or for different aspects remaining in progress at the same time.

It’s important for companies to remember that each agile or distributed team member brings a unique skill set and perspective. When possible, they should capitalize on this by assigning tasks based on individual strengths or inviting team members to share their ideas during brainstorming sessions to achieve success.

Challenges a Company Will Face When Managing Geographically Distributed Teams

There are a few challenges that a company will undoubtedly face when managing geographically distributed teams:

  • Productivity
    The team’s level of motivation and coordination will have a significant impact on the organization’s effectiveness. All personnel must accomplish their work on time, effectively, and in accordance with company standards to meet the objectives.

    It may pose a challenge for leaders to determine exactly how long a worker remains engaged in a particular activity while managing a remote team. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider and practice interaction and control strategies. This assists and ensures workflow transparency to prevent miscommunications and delays.
  • Lack of Face-to-Face Communication
    According to a recent survey, the lack of interaction is the largest problem for remote workers. When working in an office, employees discuss ideas with coworkers over lunch in the cafeteria or over a morning cup of coffee.

    Working remotely significantly reduces communication among team members. Remote workers may feel lonely and isolated, resulting in decreased work motivation. Therefore, companies should think of inventive strategies to foster team bonding even when the team is geographically divided.
  • Distractions
    As there are so many distractions when working remotely from home, many remote employees find it challenging to set up a productive workspace and enter “work mode.” Their attention remains diverted whenever they’re preoccupied with household duties, mobile notifications, or family interactions. This may negatively impact performance.
  • Maintaining Company Culture
    When working remotely with a distributed team, creating and preserving an internal corporate culture is equally crucial. Organizations with strong positive cultures typically have more engaged and productive workers. It’s undoubtedly challenging to uphold a company’s corporate culture if employees work from home. Remote workers frequently feel cut off from the company culture since distributed teams meet and communicate electronically rather than in a physical office
  • Language and Culture Barriers
    Working with a team dispersed worldwide presents additional hurdles due to language and cultural barriers. Many businesses recruit workers from other nations, so a distributed team often includes workers from various cultures, languages, and communication styles.

    Being surrounded by diverse opinions and ideas while working in a cross-cultural remote team is a significant bonus. Distinct cultures sometimes find themselves less likely to self-organize since they have different values, conventions, and working methods. Sometimes it’s a challenge to overcome cultural differences and find common ground. Misunderstandings arise, and team members occasionally require help to work effectively together.
  • Time Zone Differences
    People who work on distributed teams frequently reside in several time zones. When the workday ends for some, it begins for others. Due to the significant time variations between some time zones, it’s sometimes difficult to plan meetings so that everyone on the team may feasibly attend. Delays in team reactions are another possibility. Given that a geographically distributed team’s members are in many nations and cities, it’s crucial to coordinate the team’s work.

How to Manage a Distributed Team With BairesDev

When a company manages a distributed team with an outsourcing provider, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important that they communicate their expectations and objectives to the outsourcing provider. The company leaders should make sure they understand the vision for the project and what the company requires from them to make it a success.

Establishing clear lines of communication and responsibility between the outsourcing provider and the in-house team is also critical. Everyone should know their responsibilities and how to get in touch with one another in case of issues. Regular check-ins with the outsourcing company and in-house team members also help ensure that everyone is on track and assist with problem-solving.

Finally, it’s vital that everyone involved in the process remembers that working with an outsourcing provider is a partnership. If the hiring company treats them like an extension of their team and works collaboratively with them, they’ll have a much better chance at success.

Crucial Points of Distributed Team Management

  1. Communication is essential. By regularly checking in with each team member via phone call, video call, or email, companies ensure that everyone understands everything and that nobody feels excluded.
  2. Trust is important. It’s much harder to build trust with team members not working in a face-to-face environment. Still, it’s important to remember that everyone works toward the same goal and has each other’s best interests at heart.
  3. Companies must delegate and let go. It’s definitely tempting to try to micromanage everything when teams aren’t physically present together, but it’s important to delegate tasks and trust in those team members. This doesn’t mean leaders shouldn’t keep an eye on things, but they should definitely try to avoid hovering too much.
  4. Remain flexible. With team members in different time zones or with different schedules, it’s important to stay flexible in terms of deadlines and meeting times. Not everything will always line up perfectly.
  5. Take the time to celebrate wins. Whether big or small, celebrating successes together (even if it’s just virtually) helps create a sense of camaraderie and improves morale.

Building an effective distributed team management strategy takes time, patience, and effort, but it’s doable. By focusing on communication, trust, delegation, flexibility, and celebrating successes, companies create a team that functions well no matter where everyone is physically located.

How to Get Started Outsourcing a Distributed Team

One of the best places to start when creating a remote team is with an outsourcing company. By working with a provider specializing in distributed teams, companies tap into a wealth of experience and resources to help build an effective team.

When businesses work with an outsourcing provider, they gain access to a network of talented professionals who fill various roles on their team. As the provider manages the recruitment and onboarding process, businesses then have time to focus on other aspects of team building, such as developing project plans and ensuring smooth communication among team members.

Outsourcing providers also offer valuable support services to help manage a distributed team effectively. These services include project management, training, and technical support. As they’re familiar with the challenges of managing distributed teams, they also offer advice and guidance on overcoming common obstacles.

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Start Building Your Development Team With BairesDev Today!

The management of a distributed team requires a rigorous tried-and-true strategy, which may prove difficult and complex at first. However, with the right project management, resources, methods, and service providers, companies can quickly handle their work and achieve success. A dispersed development team allows productivity, agility, and flexibility. Additionally, it’s much easier to find qualified professionals without wasting time and money on in-house training.

Effective remote team management requires technology and tools to monitor the workflow’s development, effectiveness, and success rate. These technological instruments also decrease the risks related to remote services. Nevertheless, by employing a distributed team from an outsourcing provider, companies flourish and find success in ways and at speeds previously unavailable to them.

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