5 Principles of Distributed Teams

5 Principles of Distributed Teams


We are 100% remote company, and have people working out of home offices in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. We identified our core principles that allow us to be productive yet build relationships across the borders and language barriers. Some team members live and work in the war torn country, but manage to bring some normalcy into their routines and contribute to the company’s success.

“ We call it TCP - Trust, Culture and Process. When we bring people on board, we ensure we can trust that they are able to work independently.”

– Jenya Edelberg

#1 is Trust. When we bring people on board, we ensure we can trust that they are able to work independently and carry on their own tasks without someone looking over their shoulders or constantly reminding of and checking on their work. Everyone needs to understand that their piece of the project is essential to completion, and we are all doing our part ensuring we are not holding back the process.

#2 is Communication. We identified and separated our lines of communication with each other, with clients and partners so it's all organized. We know where to find information that we need regarding various projects and issues, and we know how to talk to each other when something needs to be done quickly. Tools that work for us may not work for others, but I believe the main idea is to have clarity on what tools and channels are used for what type of communication. For example, we use Slack for internal communication only. Clients are not added to our Slack, and all channels are purely for internal purposes.

#3 is Project Management. Just like with communication tools, there is a number of project management tools, and we use Jira for our purposes, but other teams may find Asana or equivalent more useful. Having 1 place that collects all projects and requests in 1 place to service and manage is essential to us. This is where the tool is used to track timelines, due dates, various tasks and priorities. Project manager typically overseas the flow and checks on the progress, but we are making the best out of Jira to structure our workflow as efficiently as possible without the need for extra meetings and discussions.

#4 is Processes. We created our own internal processes with specific definitions of what and how everyone needs to be doing their work to eliminate inconsistencies with our final products and quality. When people have clarity on expectations, time needed for execution and the full picture of the process ahead, they are able to plan their work and time accordingly. We then don't need to be in the same room to keep reviewing and revisioning something if everything is set up, and all is needed is to be on schedule.

#5 is Culture. We found that every company has its own set of traits that define the vibe and interaction between people. When there's a clear fit in the culture, then the other four - Trust, Communication, PM and Processes are a no brainer. Identifying and brining people who are aligned with the company's values and culture is imperative to successful team management. Our teams are pre-dominantly driven by high quality of our craftsmanship, smart solutions and openness to learn. We inspire people to innovate together. It also requires a lot of flexibility and independence in constantly changing and tweaking ways of doing things. Some people prefer to have more direction, but our team members prefer more freedom to explore and try.