I work on a project where one team member is located several states away, flying in once a month or so, and several others work from home one or more days a week. I see our workplace moving more in this direction over time for practical reasons, including:
- We build and help others build complex software systems and we need very bright people to work on the toolkit we support. Expanding the physical range of candidates for these positions gives us a better chance to hire top people for our project.
- As a cost-saving measure, we were moved earlier this year into an office with the worst commute in our region. Following this move, some people left immediately and others remain only because they enjoy working on their current project or with their current team. The company’s ability to keep its current people (including me) and attract new ones depends partly on its flexibility with worker’s hours and location.
There is a difference in kind between a team with remote workers (i.e. some are just not in the main office) and a distributed team (where the workflow of the team is set up to support workers in whatever location they happen to be). We are definitely in the former state now, but I hope to move us toward the latter state since I see it as the future of our industry and it will help keep our team strong and effective in its mission. The article linked below goes into more detail about this idea.