My parents were in town last week to celebrate a late Christmas. After dinner one night, we were chatting about business. The subject of staffing came up.
They were shocked to learn that I have never actually met any of our developers!
We have a 100% distributed team. That means every member of our team is free to live anywhere they want. And why shouldn’t they? We’re solidly into the 21st century, and we have the technology to make distributed teams work… and work well.
We’re hardly the first company to use this model. Smart companies around the world have been doing it for over a decade.
I believe it’s a competitive advantage. After all, which of the following companies can draw from a larger talent pool?
- Company A: Requires workers to be on-site at their offices in Minneapolis, MN
- Company B: Hires workers from anywhere in the world… without requiring they relocate
It’s a rhetorical question, of course. All things being equal—compensation, benefits, culture—the company that can hire from a potential pool of billions will win over the one that can hire from a pool 20% the size.
If you want to hire the best in the world, and your ideal candidate is perfectly happy living 450 miles from your office, what are your chances of actually landing that person if you require them to relocate?
Now, to be fair, this really only applies to knowledge workers. Of course an auto mechanic can’t live 973 miles away from the garage. It’s not practical. And there are some entry-level knowledge worker needs that one could argue are best filled with on-site staff. But even that’s changing, work-from-home call center reps being a great example.
The advantages don’t stop at the breadth of talent, either. To be candid, many companies realize enormous cost savings when they hire distance workers. That’s due to a number of factors:
- Salaries, one of the biggest business expenses
- Office rent
The first point is the biggest. The cost of living in the United States is much higher than it is in places like Bangkok or the Philippines. That can make the difference between being able to afford a staff of 50 or a staff of 5.
That’s huge, especially for start-ups, which are always strapped for cash.
The technology is there to make collaboration among distance workers more effective. At Battlestar Digital, we use Slack, PivotalTracker, and Skype for collaboration.
So, to clarify, I’ve never met my staff in-person. But that doesn’t change the fact that we work well together and get things done… arguably more efficiently than we would if we sat together in a large office with all of its accompanying distractions.
And how about job satisfaction? I don’t have any data to back it up, but I’m reasonably confident that, if you took a survey of 100 remote workers and 100 office workers, you’d find the remote workers were happier with their jobs. And, with the amount of time we all spend at work, that correlates directly with a higher quality of life.
Want to work from a coffee shop for a day or three?
Oh, you moved 60 miles away from your old house last month?
Want to work from Malta for three months?
Finally, there’s the trust factor. I’m always floored when I hear a manager say that they need their staff on-site so they can make sure they’re working. Really?
If you can’t trust them, why hire them? And what’s your metric for performance, anyway? The number of minutes you see them in their cubicle? Maybe, Mr. Skeptic, you should evaluate your staff on their production… you know, something that actually ties to the bottom line!
Talent. Cost. Technology. Happiness.
That’s why Location Independence is one of our core values.