Top 5 advantages of having a distributed team

A study said that 43% of their respondents worked remotely less often 2-3 years ago; 83% of them spend at least a part of their current days working from home; and 66% believe that their office might go full virtual within the next 5 years.

 

WHY? Why is there an increasing trend of distributed teams and working remotely?

 

Here are the top 5 advantages of having a distributed team:

 

  1. Able to hire the best people.  Being open to a distributed team would enable you to find and hire the right people, the best talents, regardless of where they happen to live. Geographically limited companies have a restricted talent pool from which they can hire their people from. This results in possibly sub-optimal or just the wrong people being hired just to fill the position. In contrast, in a distributed team, there are virtually no barriers as to who you can hire, be it nationality, location, background etc. With an infinitely larger talent pool to choose from, there are also higher chances that a perfect candidate can be sought for the position without compromise. As Jim Collins said in his book “Good to Great”, “[Good leaders] start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” Start your company right by hiring the right people, regardless of where they live.

  2. Increased productivity. The President’s Council of Economic Advisers released a study that suggested that remote workers are absent less, more healthy, and more productive. Someone who works from home has the flexibility of visiting the dentist whenever they like, picking up their children without having to leave work early and can even get back to work after the kids have gone to bed. The ability to manage family and work life well results in happier workers. Any time saved on commuting can also be better put to use, thus increasing work productivity.

  3. Diversified (international) experience and expertise. When a company works with distributed teams, an organization gains both the experience and expertise in working with different global markets. This type of experience is critical and extremely useful for a company that is expanding or plans to expand its business internationally.

  4. More efficient workflow. A distributed team can have team members working from different time zones. Although the first thought would be inconvenience iterating ideas, if this difference in time zone is well tapped into, it can turn into an advantage rather than an obstacle. A project can be completed in a faster manner if people in different time zones are continuously working on a particular project. For instance, a manager in the West Coast can draft up a task before he leaves work one evening, a programmer in India receives the task early in the morning and works on it the entire day. He finishes up the work before he leaves work, sends it to his supervisor in the East Coast. The supervisor looks through the work and edits it, and sends it to the manager in the West Coast. By the time the manager returns to work in the morning the second day, the task has already been completed. The same workflow in a co-located team may take 2-3 times the amount of time to complete, just because everyone starts and ends work at the same time.

  5. Cost savings. A team or company that is partially or completely distributed can save on real estate spendings, as less or no office space is required.

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Five tips for on boarding a distributed team member

Being in a distributed team is not always easy, but joining one as a new member without prior experience is the hardest. To help you help your new team members settle in as quickly as possible, we suggest here some tips for on boarding a distributed team member. We understand that the strategy will vary between teams, but here are a couple guidelines to start you off when enrolling a new distributed team member:

 

1. Officially introduce the new member to the team – an introduction email is great, but why not also set up a team video conference? Instead of a general welcome email, why not also explain what the new member will be working on specifically?  

2. Create knowledge spaces where the new member can go to for information, including technical, and procedural. If your distributed team uses a particular set of tools for communicating and collaborating (e.g. dropbox for file sharing, skype for calling, asana for project management), let the new member know up front, so he/she does not have to email the team to find out which specific tool(s) is(are) needed for which circumstances. Similarly, let the new member be aware of various procedures in accomplishing various tasks, especially when decision making is to be done by the manager of the team, and when the member can use his/her own discretion in deciding. A simple orientation like this helps the newbie settle in much more smoothly. This tip is probably also useful for all kinds of teams, distributed or not, but yet many teams don’t bother with this essential piece of information.

3. Have sync up meetings regularly. Meet once a week (+/-, depending on your team’s needs) to help with any immediate questions and give guidance on next steps. Don’t let matters drag on until they are discovered. Efficiency is something that distributed teams sometimes struggle with, due to trouble iterating quickly, so extra effort has to be put in to actively work towards optimal efficiency. Having regular meetings also helps ensure consistent motivation amongst team members.

4. Encourage new member to have one-on-one meetings with each team member. This is a great way for the new team member to get to know everyone on a personal level, as well as gain a deeper understanding of who is responsible of what tasks. Social interaction is limited in a distributed team, leading to a slower build up of team bonding and familiarity. Having one-on-one meetings with team members will help kick start the process.

5. Communicate the team’s culture. Even a distributed team has culture. But this culture is going to be more difficult to grasp for the new member, when there is minimal (or no) face time with the team. Henceforth, as the manager, you should clearly articulate the team’s culture to the new member right from day one. Be clear about expectations, how work progress is tracked, how self motivation plays a role in the team and whether feedback is an option. No detail is too detailed.

 

Most importantly, TRUST each other.

Any other tips you have? Share it with us!

We have reached our 400th Igniter!!

The meetup group that the Vorkspace team organizes — Igniters; Stanford entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley founders, has reached its 400th member today! Thank you everyone for your support! If you have not yet signed up to be an Igniter, DO IT NOW! If you’re already a member, we love you!! Please continue to spread the word about this awesome group of founders, and see you at our meetups at Hacker Dojo! 🙂

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(P.S. the next one is coming right up on 9th August)

How to get your first PAYING customers

After learning about how to reach out to our first 1000 customers, and expanding that with an impressive strategy on media marketing, let’s find out how to get our first 1000 PAYING customers! (because we all want to make money, don’t we?)

Not only will you learn about generating sales, but will also meet over 100 other liked-minded startup founders from around Silicon Valley, in our double-networking session!

Join us for our 3rd meetup, on 9th August, at Hacker dojo, where Paul Dejoe, CEO of ecquire, would be speaking on Sales Hacking: Sales, Drugs and Remote Teams.

Learn how to get your first 1000 PAID customers and run a remote SALES team. As a startup founder, there’s no bigger challenge than how to acquire customers. Paul DeJoe shares his detailed, step-by-step process on how to get customers for your business.

This interactive, step-by-step guide isn’t some high level courseware or general sales tips; but a comprehensive, real-world process for implementing a successful customer acquisition strategy.

You can implement the steps within this guide right now to:

  • Understanding Who Your Customers Are – Paul takes you through his methodology of developing comprehensive customer portfolios and how to turn them into evangelists.

  • How To Master Your Messaging – Get the basics of copywriting, effective headlines, and how to create findable and shareable content.

  • Increase Retention And Paid Conversion – Paul covers how to develop Key Pivotal Indicators, define a sales event trail, and a referral system to get users on board faster.

  • Interactive Content – Dozens of expert insight directly from Paul to help you get the most out of each step; authentic documents used by Paul many times over; and the benefits of the Accel.io platform to interact with others using the same guide!

Don’t fall into the “build it and they will come” trap – make getting your first customers simpler with this comprehensive process Paul has refined and used over his past 3 startups.

So what are you waiting for? SIGN UP NOW!! 

As a preview, check out Paul Dejoe’s talk at TEDx

Paul is the CEO of Ecquire (www.ecquire.com/‎), software for lead management. He serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Fairbridge Venture Partners, has been featured in the Wall St. Journal, Business Insider, Forbes, Inc., is a Mentor for the Thiel Fellowship, and advisor to 4 startups.  He has built three different startups from idea to sustainability and beyond.

 

Inaugural Stanford Ignite batch creating waves in the Valley!

We were honored to be featured by the Stanford press! Brooke Donald from Stanford news approached the Vorkspace team, interested to find out what the alumni of the inaugural Ignite batch were up to.

The discussion with Brooke was extremely fun, as we reflected upon how much each of our lives have changed drastically ever since January 2013, when we embarked on the new journey called Ignite. As Cynthia mentioned in the interview, “I learned so much I can’t believe it was only nine weeks. It felt like nine months.” We chatted about the truckload of things we learnt, the surprises along the way, and all the friends we made. None of us ever expected things to turn out the way they would — in amazing ways, of course. And that did not end after 9 weeks of the course. That was, in fact, the real beginning of what would happen.

Check us out at the Stanford News website. ^_^

The Vorkspace Song

The Vorkspace song:

Vorkspace: Workspace of the future!

Team collaboration

Constant communication

Seamless file sharing

Social interaction

Vorkspace: Workspace of the future!

No commute hours

Work from anywhere

All on the same page

Hire from anywhere

Vorkspace: Workspace of the future!

V! V is for Vorkspace

Vorkspace: Workspace of the future!

 

Margaret Neale on Team management, team performance and innovation

While we were students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, we were fortunate enough to have Margaret Neale, distinguished professor, to teach us how to negotiate. Besides negotiation, her other primary research area includes team collaboration.

She gave a very insightful talk on the power of teams and the psychology of teams, available here. It’s an hour long, but definitely worth it. But, we understand that you are all busy people, so we’ve created a list of takeaways from the lecture! 🙂

Our 6 Major Takeaways from her lecture on team:

  1. Teams will only do better than individuals if the right (heterogenous) team comes together to experience synergy. A good team leads to having more perspectives of the same problem — generating innovation and creativity. It drives the interpretation of data, removing the rate of being blinded by our own theories, by listening to others’ competing theories. HOWEVER, we don’t like to learn, and we don’t like to think, which leads to a tendency to find like-minded individuals to form a team, instead of forming a team with a wide range of expertise. We thus have to consciously and actively seek team members that have a heterogenous experience and personalities. With minorities in the group (i.e. heterogenous team), final decisions are better, and ideas have greater complexity. It does not matter if the minorites’ ideas were kept in the end, but they still contribute significantly to the complexity and quality of the final ideas.

  1. Process loss (unable to tap into the intelligence of the team) happens most often when the expert team member is female. This could be due to either self-censorship, or the female expert spoke but no one listened.

  1. Teams get frightened of conflicts — leading to a tendency to suppress differences, rather than embracing and resolving them. Having similar team members amplifies the desire to suppress differences, while having obvious heterogeneity through minority group members can reduce this tendency, generating a healthy group conflict culture. This supports the first point that having minorities within a team is beneficial. Also, assigning “contrarian” roles to certain group members, may facilitate discussions by reducing the stress of raising up opposing opinions.

  1. The first team meeting is the most important. Team culture is set in the very first meeting. Structure the team such that each team member understands how and when they should talk, and how the responsibilities and roles are distributed.

  1. Low status people in the group should speak first, high status high influence people should speak last. Because first speaker / first mover makes the biggest influence. Having this structure would balance out the influence of each team member.

  1. Being a great team member/leader requires preparation, connectedness and strong emotional maturity. Having this kind of leader encourages the team to commit to the team enough to want to engage in conflicts and tough discussions.

Margaret Neale, is a Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate school of business. Her research focuses primarily on negotiation and team performance. Her work has extended judgment and decision-making research from cognitive psychology to the field of negotiation. In particular, she studies cognitive and social processes that produce departures from effective negotiating behavior. Within the context of teams, her work explores aspects of team composition and group process that enhance the ability of teams to share the information necessary for learning and problem solving in both face-to-face and virtual team environments.