Distributed Workforce: What It Is And How To Manage It

man working as part of distributed workforce

Even before the pandemic, many forward-thinking companies began shifting their operations toward a work model known as a distributed workforce. While some organizations are reverting back to traditional workstyles, others believe a distributed workforce is here to stay.

In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what a distributed workforce is, why it’s being called the future of work, and the best ways to manage this type of team.

Key Features Of A Distributed Workforce

To put it simply, any business that intentionally hires employees across different areas of the globe instead of one designated location is a distributed workforce.

Otherwise known as a blended work model, there are a few important elements that make up this style of work. At a basic level, these might include but are not limited to:

  • Network infrastructure
  • Satellite offices
  • A thorough work-from-home/field service policy
  • Domestically dispersed employees
  • Internationally dispersed employees

Although the two sound similar, a distributed workforce is not the same as remote work.

For distributed workforces, it’s extremely common for some employees to work at one of the potentially several company locations while others work from satellite offices, home offices, or engage in another type of field service.

Remote work, on the other hand, is a workstyle tailored toward an individual rather than the entire organization.

Geographic Distribution

The main reason that geographic distribution is so important for a distributed workforce is strategy. Whether this strategy is fulfilled by a greater international presence or access to talent beyond borders, this model helps accomplish part of a company’s mission.

Network Infrastructure

Cords into a router system

Working with people from all around the world might seem a bit overwhelming at first — and it would be if it weren’t for network infrastructure.

This essential IT system is what keeps all employees connected and all resources accessible, regardless of location. It is the hardware and software that allows everyone to seamlessly collaborate and is paired well with task management software, like Inch, for optimal efficiency.

Benefits Of A Distributed Workforce

Although the distributed workforce has been around for a while, the pandemic has impacted a rapid shift toward this style of work. This has left many to wonder why it has been so significant and what the considerable benefits are that come with it.

Cost Savings

One of the major appeals of the distributed workforce is the cost savings it offers companies. The direct savings linked to a business’s main office footprint reduction include:

  • Minimized computer costs
  • Fewer phones and in-office equipment
  • Electricity savings
  • Heating and AC savings

Many of these savings also stem from a distributed workforce’s ability to open satellite offices (additional office branches) in smaller towns with lower costs of operation, hiring remote talent in otherwise expensive locations, and lowering labor costs through reduced turnover rates.

Carbon Footprint Reduction

Along with the many ways that distributed workforces cut down on any in-office footprints, the environmental benefits trickle down through the daily lives of employees as well.

The average working American spends anywhere from around $500 to over $1,000 each year on gas exclusively for their job. While not everyone drives to work, 2010 started to see an all-time high of over 75% of Americans driving to their job without carpooling.

Fuel costs are largely omitted for many employees working on a distributed workforce whether they are 100% remote or working through a hybrid model.

Employee Wellness

Man happy to be part of a distributed workforce

The lower turnover rates that distributed workforces experience might very well be a result of the higher quality of life that employees report.

For traditional in-office jobs that limit or completely eliminate the opportunity to explore different workstyles, employees are confined to specific schedules, long commutes, and less time spent with loved ones.

All of these factors result in unhappy employees and, eventually, increased turnover rates.

Managing Your Distributed Workforce

With so many benefits for the company and employees, the distributed workforce model is a lucrative option for all businesses. The operations management of this workforce will take a few essential tools and tips to make the most of your team’s skills.

Let’s take a look at some ways to ensure success with this kind of work model.

Find The Right Tools

When managing a distributed workforce, the right network infrastructure and communication software are crucial for success. Being able to collaborate with all employees, securely share files, and avoid technical hiccups along the way will keep operations running smoothly.

Some crucial network infrastructure components include:

  • Intrusion protection systems
  • Routers for network connectivity
  • Gateways for multi-network connections
  • Virtual private network (VPN)
  • Switches for local connections
  • Firewalls for access control
  • Storage area network (SAN)
  • Domain name system (DNS)

Failing to have appropriate IT infrastructure in place can result in poor security and a long list of issues. Make sure your network is audited regularly for security purposes, and ensure that your distributed workforce and company overall stay protected.

Woman IT engineer in server room checking network

The right work management software will also keep your distributed workforce organized and ready to easily communicate. Be sure your software can streamline team communication, keep everyone up-to-date, and optimize labor spending as Inch does.


When all employees are in the same location under one roof, it can be simple to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding tasks and goals. With a distributed workforce, having employees dispersed can complicate this.

To avoid the issue of employees not fully understanding tasks, overcommunicate with everyone on the team to help the workflow and ensure that employees feel comfortable asking questions.

Keep in mind that overcommunicating does not mean overcomplicating. Make sure all points are easy to follow so you can reinforce simple objectives rather than constantly explain a jumble of confusing responsibilities.

Also, be sure to share important information as soon as possible. Even if the information is bad news, providing the necessary individuals with this communication can lead to a quicker solution and strengthen overall communication practices.

An ideal way to overcommunicate without standing over an employee’s shoulder is by holding weekly check-ins. Ask for specifics regarding how projects are going and encourage them to ask any questions they may have.

Encourage Video Communication

Online business meeting

The ability to have a face-to-face conversation with someone on the other side of the world can be easily overlooked in terms of how effective it is for managing a team, especially a distributed workforce.

Prioritizing video calls over emails or phone calls will help keep people more connected and remind them that they are an important part of the team.

Opting for direct messages rather than video communication can remove personability. Successfully managing a largely remote team means being able to remind everyone that they are human beings before they are workers.

Schedule Regular Meetings

On the note of over-communication and video calls, regular meetings are going to play a vital role in every aspect of management.

Meetings should always serve a purpose. For a distributed workforce, this purpose can range from a weekly individual check-in to a daily team meeting. The regularity of each meeting will change and evolve based on needs, but others should stay consistently scheduled.

Plus, get-togethers like happy hours or meetings to recognize employee achievements will boost staff morale and keep everyone connected, even if they’re thousands of miles apart.

Keeping Distributed Workers Close With Inch

Team using Inch to keep a Distributed Workforce close

Managing a distributed workforce is an innovative way to expand your business and maintain talent retention while saving money and optimizing wellness for all employees.

As more companies realize the benefits of this workstyle, choosing functional and innovative management software will help make sure your process is successful for the future.

When it comes to building a strategic workforce with talented workers from around the world, trust Inch to keep everyone right next door and on the same page for every project.

Inch is a voice-operated workforce management software that combines task management, team communication, and time tracking to ensure that every industry has the most efficient and connected work environment.

To learn more about how you can build your company’s success internationally and manage your distributed workforce through streamlined internal communication, visit tryinch.com and get started for free today.

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