There are different forms of remote teams, such as:
- On-site teams that allow telecommuting 1–2 days a week.
- On-site teams where a few folks tend to work remotely often.
- Distributed teams with offices in different areas (where the majority of the folks work).
- Remote teams with a centralized office and a number of people working from home/elsewhere.
- A company with no office – everyone works remotely, period.
The configuration also depends on the type of solution. Service businesses work differently from product teams. Small projects with quick turnaround are different from long-term projects (taking years). Organizations working with consultants and freelancers also structure the process in various ways.
With teams where the majority of the workforce is remote, communication is one of the main problems. Keeping everyone in the loop without sacrificing time or missing details are crucial.
Engagement is a problematic point as well. Given the small number of organizations offering remote work, plenty of employees apply for those jobs simply because they want to juggle family activities or work from home. Often times, there’s little to no investment in the organization or the brand.
This also reveals other problems when it comes to competition. Companies formed in metropolitan areas struggle with keeping talent as there are thousands of tech companies (or other forms of competitors) in the same area. Still, employees may consider other factors – office, team, brand, company perks, team building events and more that may keep someone engaged for a longer period of time. With remote, the brand element is weakened and people are often inclined to switch back to freelancing or just job-hopping.
Productivity may be lower in some cases when working in a remote team. Pushing hard to deploy a project or launch a new version of a product is simply more efficient at the office. Local peers get excited and work hard in order to get the work done. The communication overhead, time zone and cultural differences may slow things down – at times.
While there are other factors, those are often a problem for companies considering remote work or evaluating their experiments before their next round of job postings.