History of Distributed Teams

The concept of Distributed Teams is not a recent invention. Militaries have long employed the best communication technologies of the day to strategize with and command distributed teams of soldiers across great geographical divides. Two hundred years ago, the Battle of Waterloo was directed with the use of flags and bugles communicating prearranged sequences of coded messages. Later developments in radio technology allowed soldiers to communicate more complex messages, over longer distances. This granted a greater degree of managerial control on battlefields.

Over time, communication technologies evolved further, and recent advances have made it easier than ever to keep teams connected virtually. The widespread availability of high-speed internet creates a platform for applications specially tailored to connect people regardless of location. Many companies now take advantage of these advancements to save themselves the cost of physical offices. For example, companies like InVision and Automatic have decided to forgo offices altogether and staff their companies entirely with remote employees. In 2018, a Facebook official was quoted saying that the company wanted as few employees as possible to work from home, because they were concerned productivity and accountability would suffer. Facebook recently changed their philosophy though and are expecting over half of their workforce to go remote by 2025.

Many employees favor this arrangement as it saves them commute time, but also because it is inline with the current cultural practice of constant job-hopping. Previous generations were more likely to stay at one company for prolonged periods of time, and companies often frowned on applicants who were shown to change jobs rapidly. However, younger generations are more likely to change jobs frequently, and companies can make themselves more attractive to prospective applicants by offering virtual positions. These virtual positions not only open companies up to a larger pool of applicants, but it also allows employees the freedom to change jobs without the expense and frustration of relocation.

O’Duinn, J. (2018). Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart. Release Mechanix.

Gupta, A. (n.d.). The History of Remote Work: How it Came to be What it is Today. Sorry, I was on Mute! https://www.sorryonmute.com/history-remote-work-industries/