Distributed Teams

Three years working in an open office floor plan designed to encourage face-to-face collaboration largely impressed that our teams communicated primarily through Slack and Hangouts. With one office in New York and one office in Park City, employees would gather into large conference rooms for company-wide initiatives – hosted on join.me. Operations lived and breathed in G Suite. New York colleagues, separated physically by lofty mountains and vast fields, were only a chat box away. We were a distributed team, albeit with the requirement to be at your office every day.

The company’s second greatest expense was rent. In Park City, hiring was a struggle, as the 45 minute commute from the talent pool of Salt Lake City dissuaded candidates. Also, turnover was high in new hires, as it took only one snow-related traffic jam for Salt Lake City commuters to start rethinking who (and where) their employer was.

I “commuted” from Park City, each morning climbing the stairs of a brand-new, LEED certified office, settling into my desk with organic green tea from the kitchen, freshly showered from the downstairs locker room and gym (on an ambitious day). I frequently paused to admire my view (through floor-to-ceiling windows, no less), the 2001 Olympic ski jumps, etched into the Wasatch mountains that overlooked us:

park city ski jumps view from kimball junction

And right before I dug into work, work that required none of these wonderful amenities, the same thought would return me to focus and begin my day: There is a better way.

For me, distributed teams are a lifestyle optimization:

  • Distributed team members do not experience traffic jams.
  • Distributed team members are not concerned about holiday travel planning.
  • Distributed team members do not have clients asking if there is “a ping pong game or something” going on in the background during a call.
  • Distributed team members do not have to put children in day care, or leave pets locked in apartments.

Distributed teams is putting to use the reason we invented technologies – to make our lives better.

Inspired reading:

Don’t Work “Remotely”. Blaire Reeves. November 2019.