Scatterwork is in good (virtual) company

The Benefits of Virtual Working

Since Scatterwork was established in 2008, the company has had the objective of having a 100% virtual team to support its operations. In fact, the company name was selected to reflect this interest only a year after Twitter was launched and a year before Facebook made any profit.

Our service is Project Consultancy, so is dependent on its team of experts. By developing a team which is 100% virtual has several tangible business benefits in contrast to bricks-and-mortar companies:

Some Benefits of Virtual Working

Among the many benefits of virtual working, these are the most important ones for Scatterwork:

  • The opportunity to select the very best experts wherever they are in the world, compared with being restricted whoever lives near enough to commute.
  • Rapid launching of new assignments, sometimes within only days of notice compared with longer lead times if experts must travel, get visas, book hotels etc.
  • Team presence is many locations, countries, cultures, time zones etc, so improving the variety of experience which supports problem solving.
  • No investment in office space and overheads (insurance, telephones, telecomms infrastructure etc.) which simplifies incremental growth.

There is no such thing as a free dinner

While the benefits of virtual working are very real, they do not come without some overhead:

  • The dependency on communications technology, which must be specified to match virtual working and managed actively is a significantly more complicated than for colocated businesses. This offsets some of the simplification and cost saving compared wtih working from a physical location.
  • Every opportunity should be used for the team members to meet each other face to face, for example when travellng to the same client. Ideally this would be supplemented by team meetings from time to time, again not free of cost.
  • Everybody should be comfortable with asynchronous (= not at once) communication with the team. Synchronous communication (e.g. the live team meetings) are like gold dust and should be protected.
  • Team members tend to feel lonlely and this is not addressed by nearby team members, unlike the situation where they are colocated. This does not suit everybody.
  • Mostly it is not possible to see the work, only the results of the work. This demands a mind-set change for management compared with a traditional office.
  • Each team member is responsible for agreeing their own work with the stakeholders and managing the communications and tools. In short, they should be “self-starters”, which does not suit everybody.

In summary, there are positive and negative features of virtual work, which for Scatterwork are balanced in favour of virtual working.

Is Scatterwork on its own?

No, although the vast majority of companies have physical offices, there is a significant number of companies which, like Scatterwork, work virtually. Here are some that we are aware of:

Zapier: 25+ Fully Remote Companies That Let You Work From Anywhere

Scopic: How do the top 10 biggest virtual companies in the world make it work?

Remotive: Live Remote Jobs

Author

Dr Deasún Ó Conchúir, Founder and CEO, Scatterwork GmbH, who can be contacted at deasun@scatterwork.com

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