Building a Distributed Team in the Future of Work

I have a virtual staff of more than 40 people. Some are in the U.S. Others are spread around the globe. I also have a small local staff in California—people I can shake hands with daily or weekly, however often I go to the office. The following is what I’ve found to be true for me when it comes to building a distributed team.

First, accurately assess your business needs and which ones require local, on-site staff. These are the questions I consider:

  • Could this task be performed by existing team members without diverting attention from high-level priorities?
  • Could this job be performed at an equal or better level if outsourced to a contractor?
  • Have I outlined the job fully to know for sure that I need to hire someone for this position?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, it’s time to think about the following three things: cost, expectations and location. I start with cost only because I can hear one of my mentors in my head say, “Tristan, be sure to lead with revenue.”

Cost

Young entrepreneurs are often eager to build out their teams and hire a full-time staff to help scale the business. It’s important to weigh the cost differences between a self-employed contractor versus full-time employee. Things like health care, retirement benefits and tax considerations should all be factored in.

Clear expectations

How many times has a manager or leader backfilled a role simply because that role always existed? If a job description doesn’t clearly outline the daily, weekly and long-term goals—plus how those roll into larger organizational goals—both parties will leave frustrated. Set clear expectations early and often to ensure that each role has a purpose that allows the team member to thrive.

Location

Sometimes hiring locally isn’t financially prudent. You may find a local hire who specializes in the position you need filled falls outside your budget. Broadening your search to other cities, states or countries can yield huge rewards. Some of my best hires have been remote—and by expanding your field of applicants, you may find talent that’s been overlooked due to location. My main criterion is no longer location. It’s character—strong values and morals that are brought to the work we produce daily.

There are plenty of talented people right now who have decided not to take on a job that requires “coming in” to work. This allows us to reach a wider talent pool, prioritize work-life balance and still create amazing results as a team. It starts with setting clear expectations, having daily communication and avoiding the dreaded micromanage.

In a conversation I had with Jim Harter from Gallup, he mentioned that our duty as managers and leaders is to make sure employees and staff members not only have a job that they can be proud of but also feel as though they have a purpose. Our job is to help those who work with us grow into better versions of themselves.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photos by Shutterstock

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Tristan Ahumada is the People Editor for SUCCESS, operates Lab Coat Agents as its CEO, consults Fortune 500 companies, runs a successful Real Estate team in California, expansion teams in the U.S. (in different brokerages), owner in one Brokerage, currently sits on different boards for tech companies, and is also an international speaker. His love for technology and systems pushes him to test and use the latest products for growth for all businesses around the world including Real Estate Agents/Brokers. Tristan is from Southern California where he currently lives with his wife and two kids.

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