Henry Ford’s assembly line factories relied on the simultaneous, choreographed production of hundreds of employees in one location. The model of concentrating simultaneous labor hours in a single location carried over to the offices of white collar corporations which found efficiency in bulk purchases of uniform space, equipment, and everything else to service their staffs.
That model is being out-competed. Labor is no longer tied to large immobile machines or a parts being passed from one hand to another. Production tools fit in pockets and brief cases, units of production are text, code, and digital visual designs that are passed from a handheld in Sweden to a handheld in South America before being deployed on servers in Oregon the same afternoon.
Now tools and teams are distributed around the globe. Previously, increases in efficiency meant decreasing the time it took to get Bolt A secured to Nut B by minimizing the physical distance. Now efficiency increases mean identifying the most productive talent with the best tools anywhere in the world because the cost in moving the product is effectively zero. Graphic design, web development, custom hardware solutions, rapid prototyping, writing, and even routine legal and financial services can be ordered from your desk, café, coworking space, or airport.
Finding and adapting to distributed teams requires time and the right tools. Networks like LinkedIn can help identify professionals with the skills you need. Communication and team management tools like Slack can help organize hierarchies, projects, and reports as well as provide centralized file sharing, video conferencing, and communication archives. As always though, the first step is accepting the risk of a new process. Hire someone on contract to produce content or choose a low-priority project to assign to remote workers and see how the process unfolds.
Talent is everywhere. The best talent probably isn’t within a 20km radius. Whether you’re hiring your company’s 10th staff member, or looking for a single service, tap your networks to find out if the best candidates are, and will always be, somewhere else. Chances are you’ll be more satisfied by their product, have no problem contacting and managing them, and still consider your distributed team YOUR TEAM.