It’s important to ask ourselves what distributed project management team is really good for. According Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new CEO, distributed project management team represent lazy procrastinators sitting at home eating nachos instead of getting work done. Mayer may be new, but she’s painfully old fashioned in her views on the workplace. What Marissa and indeed many others don’t yet fathom (but undoubtedly will) is that the tide of human resource is set sturdily against their (mis)conceptions of the proper workplace. According to a recent study done by Intuit, over 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be freelancers, contractors and temporary workers by 2020. In essence, those who turn their backs on distributed and remote work are effectively turning their backs on 40% of their future recruitment base. If these statistics come to fruition even to a minimal extent, it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of companies out there will not be willing to so restrict their abilities to recruit talent. So to a certain extent, we’re going to have to live with distributed project management team whether we’re looking forward to it or not. The next question we need to investigate now is really the first: Will distributed team represent a positive evolution of the workplace and workforce, or damn us to skyrocketing nacho sales as Mayer would have us believe?
In order to answer this question, we first need to understand the origins of the viability of remote work and distributed project management team. Viability stems from the following three factors:
- Wide availability of high-speed broadband in homes that parallels and even sometimes rivals office internet connections
- Proliferation and constant development of ‘cloud’ collaboration services (‘web 2.0’ software) such as Google Apps, Dropbox, and Binfire
- A corollary of factor (2): Efficient real-time text, audio and video communications like Skype that not only facilitate communications at a high level, but can also promote accountability
These three factors have in large part catalyzed the prevalence of remote and distributed teamwork over the past ten years. But as any econ major could inform you, supply doesn’t necessarily imply demand; Just because people can work remotely, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily will work remotely.
But they do!
Because every time a resource is unlocked, efficiencies can be enjoyed.
Which resource was unlocked by the above factors?
The introduction of the above three factors effectively unlocked a previously trapped supply of skilled labor. Today, a budding startup is not restricted to recruiting on its own home turf; Any firm can recruit talent from anywhere in the world. This reality has offered a great opportunity to project management team seeking efficiency by allowing them to forego the cumbersome costs suffered by their larger and more traditional competitors. Distributed project management team not only can draw from an international well of talent in order to find highly skilled and relatively inexpensive workers, but they can also avoid the immense costs of an office plus the wasted time of traveling back and forth to work. These two new realities in the world of the workplace can afford great advantages to team seeking efficiency and agility.