What is a distributed workforce?
The world has changed ever so much in the past 2 years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to re-evaluate and change the way they do everything, especially the way they work. As a result, an astonishingly high number of businesses are now developing a distributed workforce.
I know you’re probably reading this right now thinking “What on earth is a distributed workforce? And why is it getting so popular?”
If that is an accurate depiction of the dialogue that’s going on inside your head, don’t worry. In this article we’re going to break down what a ‘distributed workforce’ is. As well as this, we’ll talk about the benefits and challenges that come with having one.
Defining a distributed workforce
A distributed workforce simply means a business that enables its employees to work from different locations, as opposed to restricting them to working under one roof. Traditionally, businesses tended to have all their employees working in one office location. This was so that they could communicate, collaborate, and have access to all the company resources they needed to execute their roles, like computers, broadband and fax machines.
However, thanks to technological advances, this is no longer the case. Nowadays, one laptop and a WiFi connection is what many desk-based employees need to do their job. Businesses that have distributed workforces utilise technology to enable their workforce to communicate and collaborate effectively, despite being spread out across different locations.
What makes up a distributed workforce?
A ‘distributed workforce’ is a term describing a business that has its employees working from different geographical locations. They could be working from different cities, or even different countries.
These businesses could have some of their employees working from the company’s headquarters, some employees working from home, and others working from co-working spaces or even coffee shops.
If a company has a distributed workforce, they could have their Head of Marketing living in Dubai, overseeing their Social Media Manager that’s based in London, who has a digital marketing assistant based in Mumbai.
Why do businesses use the distributed working model?
Having employees located all over the world sounds great and all, but by now you’re probably wondering “Why do businesses use the distributed working model?”.
The answer to this is simple. These businesses that adopt a distributed workforce do so to help them achieve their goals efficiently. As many of these businesses have realised that having location flexibility can provide their company with a big competitive edge over their competitors.
As well as empower them to experience a wealth of benefits, which we’ll dive into in the next section.
The distributed workforce vs remote workforce
It’s very easy to confuse a remote workforce with a distributed workforce, but there is a slight difference between the two. When a company incorporates a ‘distributed workforce’, it deliberately disperses its workforce across different geographic locations.
Large, multinational companies like Google, Amazon and Barclays are just 3 companies that are known to disperse their workforce. These companies incorporate this operational strategy with the intention of helping them perform better and achieve goals faster.
Google is a great example of a company that has successfully established a distributed workforce. They’ve done this by having their key staff members working from the company HQ in California, as well as having several important employees in London. All while simultaneously having IT support representatives and customer support agents all around the world.
Adopting this approach has proven to be beneficial for Google. Having their customer service team located all around the world has enabled them to be working around the clock due to them being in different time zones. As a result, they can provide their customers with 24/7 support. This is just one example of a business that has a distributed workforce.
Similarities and differences
As I previously stated, it can be very easy to make the mistake of confusing a remote workforce with a distributed workforce. This is because they are very similar working practices. However, there are subtle differences between the two.
Like a distributed team, a remote workforce refers to a business where colleagues are free to work separately, in different locations.
However, the key difference between the two is that remote teams usually require their employees to be located near a central or regional facility so that they can work from their office on a part-time basis.
Benefits of a distributed workforce
There are many benefits that businesses can unlock by of adopting a distributed workforce. Here are some of them:
1. Access skilled employees
It’s no secret that tech industry is booming. According to the State of The Tech Workforce Report, carried out by CompTIA. Since 2015, nearly 870,000 new tech occupation jobs were added every year in the USA alone. But this growth isn’t aligning with today’s workforce, as 80% of tech CEOs have reported that the lack of readily available and skilled employees is their top challenge.
For this reason, technology outsourcing is expected to grow by around 20% annually over the next decade. Adopting a geographically dispersed workforce is an innovative way your business could use get access to a broader pool of skilled employees.
Imagine just how much talent your business could tap into if you didn’t restrict your search to just one geographic location?
2. Increased employee productivity
One of the biggest benefits that your business can reap from by having a dispersed workforce is increased employee productivity.
A study carried out by wfhresearch.com revealed that nearly 6 out of 10 workers felt like working remotely enabled them to be more productive than they expected themselves to be.
In addition to this, 40% of workers stated that they were more productive working from home than they had been when in the office. The reasoning behind these mind-blowing statistics is simple. When employees work from home, they usually do so alone. So, they are less likely to get distracted by their colleagues. As a result, they can spend much more time focusing on their tasks at and in turn be more productive
3. Better coverage
By now you’re probably aware that having a distributed workforce will enable your business to have employees that are geographically spread around the world. However, you may not be aware that this can be an easy and cost-effective way of building a global coverage.
As you can have employees working on the other side of the world without having to spend a single dime leasing or building offices. This global coverage could be exactly what your business needs to enhance its level of customer service because distribution your workers can enable your business to provide 24/7 customer service as you’ll have employees working in every time zones.
4. Enhance your workforce
Over the past few years, there’s been a massive shift in how companies operate and how their employees collaborate. The days of having all your employees working from one centralised office are long gone. Nowadays, many companies – including your competitors – are leveraging technology to establish a distributed workforce.
So, my final question for you is:
Are you ready to create a distributed workforce and take your business’s operations to the next level?
If you are, then don’t worry about the “how”- you can leave that to us
848 is a leading IT solutions provider, we pride ourselves in our ability to empower businesses and their employees with intuitive tools and trusted IT solutions for flexible and remote working. Just contact us and tell us about your business and what you want to achieve, and we can help you in every step of the way.
Thulani is a digital executive and technical writer. He researches new and emerging IT solutions and constructs relevant content that is both informative and easy to digest. Thulani writes articles that provides clear insights for business users.