Distributed teams

Today I’ve been working from home, thankfully the client I’m working for sometimes allows me to do this if I need to. I was thinking about remote working and how it has changed and grown so much over the last few years.

Back when I started in the web industry many years ago, one of the first places I worked at had a small team for this web stuff, and eventually they went off on their own and I was asked if, as the junior developer, I’d like to go with them on their new adventure.

So for the first few weeks we as a team of three was a distributed team, each working from their homes. Back then all I had was a dial up, a old computer with a CRT (remember them), Dreamweaver and FTP. Whenever I need to talk to another member of the team, we’d email a time to talk. Then I’d unplug the telephone line from the computer, plug the phone in and speak to my team mate. This was about 14 years ago so mobiles were just coming out.

Now sitting here I have a laptop, wifi, Dropbox and Slack/Glitter all keeping me in touch with not only the other members of my team, but developers all over the world. I can sync all my changes through Dropbox, so when I’m back in the office I can check in to the build server, all the work I’ve done here.  Through things like Slack/Glitter I can speak to other developers on any project I have in Github.

In America it looks like the distributed team approach has really taken off. In the UK businesses are not as open to the idea, mainly established businesses are not keen on this model. New startups are looking at this approach, but being in a smaller country compared to the US, I think UK firms are still new to the distributed model, which is a shame because now it is some much easier to work this way. I’m sure top developers are put off by a role when they see how long the commute is, if more companies were open to this way of working then they might find the best developers for their team/project.