There is a growing trend among successful startups, and that’s the use of distributed teams that complete work remotely. The prevalence of distributed teams is especially evident within software development startups, the majority of which complete work in some form of distributed environment. Mozilla (the folks behind Firefox), Automattic (the geniuses behind WordPress), MySQL, and WooThemes are some examples of startups that grew their success from distributed teams and remote work.
“Being able to pick the cream of the crop from anywhere in the world is hugely beneficial.”
– WooThemes co-founder Mark Forrester
Additionally, research shows that up to 80% of software development startups utilize remote distributed teams, due primarily to money conservation and increased ease of access. The success of several startups, particularly those in the software development field, has made the distributed work culture among startups more prevalent than ever, aided by a variety of quality applications that improve the ease of working remotely with distributed teams.
Take Caution When Hiring Remotely
A long list of victorious startups successfully utilized remote work and distributed work environments, but neither practice is completely fool-proof. A major challenge facing work done remotely is the potential for erroneous hiring of team members, whose qualifications may be difficult to evaluate in a remote work setting. Many startups regret choosing team members without any technical experience, as opposed to members that can both lead a team and contribute to programming and technical development. In addition, the assignment of work items in a remote work setting may result in missed deadlines, as remote team workers may feel disconnected from the on-site work environment. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer eliminated work-from-home capabilities within Yahoo for that very reason. Here’s the memo she sent for proof. Furthermore, challenges facing distributed teams include software incompatibility, difficulty in lining up working schedules, and a lack of overall direction. When the team leader is unqualified, remote work and distributed teams can cause a non-cohesive work environment.
For Startups, Though, It’s Necessary
Despite these challenges, there are many success stories that detail how startup companies took full advantage of a distributed work environment. WooThemes, a company that serves 450,000 users seeking rich WordPress themes and plugins, saw huge growth from employing a remote work environment. “Being able to pick the cream of the crop from anywhere in the world is hugely beneficial,” said co-founder Mark Forrester, who is clearly a fan of the lack of geographical restraints within distributed teams.
Additionally, popular customer support tool Groove has benefited in multiple ways from remote working, including greater access to talent, more congenial employees (since they don’t have to undergo a stressful commute), and the ability to recruit talent from all types of demographics — from busy parents to recent college grads. Many startups consider employment flexibility due to remote working as a major contribution to efficient and on-time work. Appropriately, over half of the employees at content management software GitHub do their work remotely, as the company tweets proudly. These are just a few companies out of many who have found sustained success through remote work access and distributed teams.
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