Distributed teams, does it make sense?

by Goran Duskic » Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:15 pm

Just recently I bought a book, called "Year Without Pants", basically, it's a book on one of the most succesfull distributed teams in the world Automattic (company behind Wordpress). And the book mostly focuses on how a distributed team works with all the pros and cons.

Few years ago when I met Matt Mullenweg (founder of Automattic), I learned that his team is distributed, but I never gave it a serious thought to build my team the same way. Until I was forced to think like that. About a year later, I interviewed Joel Gascoigne, the founder of Buffer. At the moment, I didn't know it, but a couple years later, I learned from Joel's posts on Facebook that his team is also distributed!

I don't have a distributed team yet, but I am really close to it, and I am definitely closer to that concept, than the old way. I am not saying that the "old" does't work, and that the "new" is necesarily better. But I always wondered why would someone travel 1 hour to work everyday, and how is someone supposed to find all the necesary tallent in the same city? Most of time it's possible, and some of the time it's not possible. Or how does one impose on someone to move 500 miles in a new city, country? Obvoiusly people did it in the past, and still do it, but why? I know proximity is power, but isn't Internet changing how we feel about proximity and has been doing so for the past 20 years?

For example, I love the sea, and I love the summer. Would I move to Canada or Sweden? I don't think so, I am just not a hockey fan. I lived two winters plowing snow in part of Croatia where it's "mountain climate". And although my name "Goran" suggest "hill, mountain", the snow is not my favorite choice, and I don't ski. I have no idea why geographicly it's neceseray to be at one place in order to work on something that's online.

Should we go the "distributed" way just because we can? I would say no, but if a talented developer or a growth hacker comes along, and he is not in the same city, shouldn't we hire him?
Goran Duskic
 
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