Co-Location vs Distributed Teams: Pros and Cons

Furthermore, effective communication can increase performance by five times. The research suggests that coming down in favour of either dispersed or co-located teams without thinking it through is too simplistic a response. Discussing the various trade-offs and making a considered decision, using available evidence and given the organisation’s context and options could lead to an informed choice.

Why are things easier for co-located teams

Team members who spend more time and effort on communication generate better results. Team space, size, selection, and participation is all about communication. A study by Alastair Cockburn in 2001 clearly illustrates the importance of communication by two people at a white board.

Types of Teams: Collocated vs Distributed Teams

It conveys the latest information at a glance, similar to a team Dashboard. 2) the team need to have enough debate and collective decision making early in the project to fully work through the storming and norming stages. Team members may be working at different times in different time zones, so more coordination of work will be required. That said, I do talk to a lot of teams, and those conversations

have led me to some tentative opinions that I’ll share here. Modern work requires a proven plan to fend off distractions, combat isolation, and deliver results. Status Hero connects your people to their work and each other with shared goals, automated updates, and live dashboards so you can confidently focus and hit your targets together.

Why are things easier for co-located teams

Cockburn contends that osmotic communication allows questions and answers to flow naturally and with surprisingly little disturbance among the team. He goes on to say that osmotic communication and frequent delivery facilitate such rich and rapid feedback, so that a project can operate with very little other structure. But like any other collaboration method, the co-located approach has its share of advantages and disadvantages. During the lifecycle of a large, distributed project, team members are exposed to many different situations.

How technology can improve communication, collaboration, and productivity in the office.

The money spent on real estate can go towards many things — another pair of hands, better salaries or benefits, higher marketing budget, better team retreats, you name it. The locations can easily slip into an us-versus-them attitude, which usually can only be fixed by bringing people together periodically and taking on the expense of letting people travel between the offices. The other downside is you have to double up leadership, and it can be complex and expensive to find leaders who share the right values, strategic alignment, and capabilities.

As a remote worker, I protect my home office because it is also part of my home, physically and virtually. You will find that skilled remote workers are more security conscious for this same reason, and have a deeply vested interest in complying with your organization’s standards and policies. Team members meet for the first time, engage in planning and design activities, transfer knowledge and establish the culture and rules of engagement for a project. In my experience, this is best done in-person, over a one or two week period. The PMI’s pulse of the profession highlights how effective communication leads to more successful projects.

However, a good team space doesn’t automatically mean you have a high-performing team. However, success doesn’t happen without the proper framework for remote teams or teams working in one location. In this article, you will find a selection of useful aspects to set the stage for high-performing co-located teams. Frankly, if you don’t take care of these essential aspects, you risk failing to take advantage of co-located teams. Pushing the team to bring most communication onto digital tools, whether chat, longer-form interactions like Jotto, video-conferencing, shared documents, etc. will make this easier.

One thought on “Co-located or dispersed teams?”

Outsourced agile distributed teams challenges your involvement in the process, however, they deliver a proven quality. High-quality, experienced software engineers are difficult to find and retain, so limiting the talent pool to one geographic area is exceptionally restrictive. The ability to manage and hire distributed teams is a much desired skill.

Why are things easier for co-located teams

You just have to be willing to adjust your processes to accommodate the reality of your team’s environment. The information in the rest of this article will explain how to do that. When establishing the ground rules for your project, make processes as clear as possible, setting expectations based on well-defined metrics. This should be done with any project, but particularly with virtual teams. You may be surprised that these team members quickly exceed your expectations and begin demanding more work to be done!

how to build culture in a remote team

We’ve partnered with 40+ companies around the globe, among them being a Canada-based social media management agency ICUC and a Swiss InsurTech company esurance. Colocation is useful for meetings that require close listening, such as design discussions. Whiteboarding designs is highly effective in person but can be managed with online tools as well. It only provides opportunities for open communication, trust, and knowledge sharing. The downside of simple face-to-face communication and a team space is that working with deep concentration can sometimes be challenging due to interruptions and distractions. Co-located team we mean a group of software developers who work in one physical location, where its members practice face-to-face cooperation with no visible barriers available.

You should take complaints about workload seriously and be ready to balance the distribution of work carefully and quickly. But we do not kick off projects or having whiteboard sessions on a daily basis. Once the epics and stories are written and assigned to sprints, most of the activity a team engages in is implementation. But regardless of where someone physically sits, if someone does not perform, I do not think an office environment will significantly improve their performance. Yes, you can look over their shoulder and keep track of coffee breaks, but then you need to question whether you want team members like this in the first place. Each team should be full-stack and responsible for taking a component from idea right through to production.

  • The PMI’s pulse of the profession highlights how effective communication leads to more successful projects.
  • A key recommendation arising from the findings is that managers should not only consider co-locating team members with each other.
  • I have used Live groups for instant messaging within a team as a replacement for a daily scrum if not much is going on.
  • Strong visions and clear goals are essential to succeed as a team, regardless of whether the team works remotely, at one location, or somewhere in between.
  • These surveys consisted of statements to which respondents indicated their (dis)agreement using a five-point Likert Scale.
  • In this article, you will find a selection of useful aspects to set the stage for high-performing co-located teams.

However, within the major hubs, there is fierce competition across employers (from startups to consulting firms to larger companies) for the same talent. This will loosen if there is a tech downturn, but it has certainly been a brutal recruiting environment for the last 5 years. It not only takes months of effort and expense to hire someone, but it can be harder to keep them as well. Your decision about single-site might hinge on the depth of your talent network.

In the meantime, or if you have no choice but to distribute your team members, I can recommend the body of work of Lisette Sutherland (no relations to Jeff Sutherland, in case you’re wondering). A common and proven approach for an agile team in helping to track and report its work is to use a physical task board. Usually done on a wall, the idea is to move task cards about between columns representing “to do”, “in progress” and “done”. Note cards are moved by the people who do the work and the resulting board represents the current state of all project work in an easy-to-interpret visual way. As you move away from this face-to-face situation, Cockburn believes teams experience a drop in communication effectiveness.

Why are things easier for co-located teams

The wave of the future is flexible working conditions—distributed teams that work across boundaries. A hybrid approach bringing remote workers together for some activities, then working virtually for others, allows us to optimize physical location. The cost savings in maintaining large office spaces and infrastructure pays the short-term travel expenses.

One common myth concerning distributed development is that the cost implications are no greater than the sum of the development expenses of each location. In reality, it is necessary to add to this the not insignificant overhead of collaboration and integration among the distributed team members. This includes additional labour costs, travel, as well as the introduction and maintenance of a set of tools. (Monica Yap, 2010) Adding to this we should also consider the cost of delay caused by the communication overhead. This results in value being released to the customer slower, thus reducing economic potential. Analyses of the data collected led to the conclusion that the Scrum software development teams working in the collocation environment were generally satisfied with the design of their co-located environment.

Related Articles