In today’s tech ecosystem, it doesn’t take much to spur the debate between the merits of co-located vs. distributed teams. Fans of fully on-site teams will emphasize the value of face-to-face communication. Distributed supporters will speak of broader talent pools and improved productivity. The debate can loop endlessly, but the clear reality is that the majority of engineering teams rely on distributed work, and most say it improves their business.
That’s one of the main conclusions of the 2018 Andela Engineering Management Report. In a survey of 503 managers at organizations with at least 100 employees, a mere 14% reported that the entirety of their team works in the same location. By contrast, 46% of respondents reported having some of their teams working remotely and 40% said they rely on remote workers most or all of the time.
Remote work has positive impact on team culture and productivity, according to distributed managers. 90% said remote working has a positive impact on productivity. These same distributed work proponents were similarly enthusiastic about remote work’s effect of on culture: 84% of respondents said remote working was positive for relationship building, communication and collaboration.
On the other hand, the 16% of managers who don’t use distributed teams are more skeptical. About half said having employees work remotely was negative for collaboration and relationship building. As for the potential effect of off-site workers on their team’s overall success, only 23% said it would have a positive effect, while the rest described the impact as having a neutral or negative impact.
The best insights come from managers with both remote and on-site team members. This group (comprising the largest segment in this year’s study) found the overall impact of a distributed team to be positive. Four out of five (80%) said the arrangement helped productivity, three-quarters (76%) said it contributed to their team’s success and more than six out of ten (62%) said it improved relationship building, collaboration, and communication.
These results suggest that distributed work is a skillset to develop like any other. The benefits of distributed teams don’t come easily. Engineering managers who put in the time to master remote work will reap the benefits of increased productivity, collaboration, and communication, while those who don’t will continue to face the challenges of a modern-day office environment.
Download the 2018 Andela Engineering Management Report for more insights into the way today’s tech leaders run successful and productive teams.
The Andela Engineering Management Report is an in-depth look at the views and behaviors of the people who manage engineers in the United States. It is based on an extensive survey of 503 managers at U.S. companies ranging in size from 100 to more than 10,000 employees. It was conducted online between October 15 and October 26, 2018, by Market Cube. Nearly one in four (23%) of respondents hold the title of vice president or higher, while 27% are director level and 50% are managers or team leaders.
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