4 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Distributed Workforce: Is it Right for Your Company?

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Since 2020, working virtually is no longer a new concept. In fact, it’s the new normal. During the pandemic, many businesses implemented working remotely or having a blended schedule for the safety of their employees.

Now, some businesses are returning to in-person working environments while others have permanently adopted working virtually. And companies on both sides of the spectrum have proven themselves successful.

So, how do you know what’s best for you and your company?

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to a distributed workforce and tips on how you can determine if it’s right for you and your company.

What is a distributed workforce?

The first thing to address is that there is a difference between remote work and distributed work.

Remote work refers to individuals who work outside the office. Distributed work refers to an entire company that works virtually.

Remote work can be done on an individual level, whereas distributed work transforms a company mindset. Everyone is working outside the office which drastically changes the company dynamic and communication style.

A distributed workforce includes:

  • Multiple office locations
  • Employees who work outside of the office
  • Employees who work on the go

Since the pandemic, 23% of remote workers have said that their organization is fully distributed.

While COVID-19 enforced remote work due to safety, distributed work is an option many companies are choosing. It works for some businesses too!

Advantages of a Distributed Workforce

Many people believe that a distributed workforce is the future for businesses around the world. 

Improved Technology

Since the pandemic, technology has reached new heights with applications like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more. Businesses have adopted these channels to stay connected and maintain clear, efficient communication in a virtual environment. This has made remote work easier and effective.

Expand Hiring Opportunities

With a distributed workforce, companies can hire talent from across the globe. While some companies may decide to hire locally still, many businesses have larger access to the talent pool since their employees do not need to relocate or live close to headquarters.

Flexibility & Increase in Productivity 

A distributed workforce also gives your team the flexibility they are looking for. Having a flexible schedule and working from where you feel most comfortable boosts productivity. 

Employees who work remotely have reported an increase in productivity with fewer distractions. According to Stanford professor, Nicholas Bloom, remote employees took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off which increased their productivity.

Decrease in Office Workspace Expenses

Distributed work also saves companies money on office real estate. Businesses can redistribute the money they would normally spend on office space for other benefits such as updated technology, employee raises, and more.

Disadvantages of a Distributed Workforce

While productivity may increase, and you can save your company millions of dollars by cutting out office space expenses, there are still disadvantages to a distributed company environment. 

Breakdown in Communication

While technology has improved and allowed many businesses to seamlessly transition to working remotely, there are still a few things that can affect communication.

People rely on non-verbal queues which are lacking when working virtually. Even on Zoom, you can only see your team members’ faces.

Technology has come a long way, but there are still occasionally internet connection problems depending on where everyone is working from. This can affect the efficiency and productivity of a virtual meeting. 

Outside of virtual meetings, it can be difficult to clearly explain a project over email or other communication platforms. Sometimes face-to-face communication is easier and causes less confusion.

Risk of Isolating Employees

According to a recent study in 2018, 21% of remote workers reported feeling isolated. 

While working remotely and working in a distributed workforce are different, it’s important to think about the psychological effects of working remotely on your team. 

The normal day-to-day office chatter is no longer an option in a distributed workplace.

“Digital technology should not be a substitute for human connection,” Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, said in an interview with The New Yorker.

Your team needs human connection. When they work in a distributed environment, they aren’t getting that connection in the workplace.

Difficult to Form a Healthy Work-Life Balance

According to a recent study, 29% of employees said that they struggled with their work-life balance, and 31% reported that they needed a day off for their mental health.

When your personal life takes place in the same space where you work, it can be difficult to balance the two healthily. This can especially be difficult for parents when their kids aren’t in school.

Where do you draw the line? How do you set those boundaries?

Harder to Create a Company Culture

It’s harder to create and maintain company culture when your team has no physical office space.

In many companies, employees who work in a distributed workspace started limiting who they communicate with. Employees only communicated to team members they worked with directly. 

While this is great for productivity, it hurts company culture. 

How CCA Can Help

Deciding what company work style is best for your business is no easy task. There are a lot of factors to consider.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to a distributed workforce, think about ways to combat the disadvantages. Be innovative with cultivating your company culture and intentionally connecting with your team.

At CCA, our team is dedicated to you and your team. Your chaplain is a trusted confidant that your team can go to, whether your company is in person, is remote, distributed or any combination that makes your team unique. 

Our chaplains are available 24/7 for you and your team. When your employees have someone to talk to, it can make company transitions seem a little easier.

Contact Corporate Chaplains of America today to learn how to support your team as you transition back to work in person.

Is your company culture holding your business back?

Download our informational PDF guide “The Company Culture Advantage” to find out how your team’s culture could benefit from a dedicated Corporate Chaplain.