Digital Distributed Work: Culture Eats Culture for Lunch

Virtual or Globally Distributed Work is quite the norm now a days with start ups or behemoths, in the digital economy work via Skype on the smart phone with declining data pack prices. I have consulted with social enterprises and start ups who work lean and digital in Singapore in the recent past and non profit initiative in Kolkata coordinated over Watsapp groups. Virtual work is about fifteen years old, exemplified by the ITES outsourcing space. But as tech is on our phone, distributed work teams can be in Singapore, Manila, NY and Dubai at the same time on the project/product. AECOM has an engineering centre in India catering to projects internationally.

Consulting firms have knowledge offshore centres all over the world tapping into cost advantage and talent pools in a de globalisation era driven by populist sentiment, is a work authorisation minefield. The theory is elegant and aspirational, though the mechanics of the fine print in the digital mode work era is something to consider:

Trust in Globally diverse and distributed teams is at a premium.

Maturity and Discipline from team members is a pre requisite. When in person meetings are not possible for extended periods of time, trust attrition is an affliction.

Digital Natives such as centennials are better at adapting to work cultures; others might have to learn up a steep curve culturally to survive in an outcome only environment

Project Managers/Start Up Leaders have to be situational leaders in a digital work era, sliding on a scale between micro managing to strategic in a blink; adaptive is the ethos here

Technology is hardly a constraint for Digital work mode. The software is free, and cloud sharing is affordable.

Trust and Culture of Collaborative work is the basis of digital work. Leaders need to build that for value creation across geographically distributed teams

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