17. june 2021

A distributed team is like a magic wand. It can save money, improve quality and bring more creativity and diversity to your project. Yet, just like a magic wand, it is also a tool, which can disappoint its users or those around them if not used properly. At Conscensia we have been working with distributed teams since 2006 and have gained enough expertise to share and help others.
We asked our Management Team, Delivery Manager, Team Lead and Scrum Master to share their knowledge and experience on how to manage a successfully distributed team, overcome the most common challenges, and create a safe space for every member to shine.

What are the perks of having a distributed team?

1. Access to talent without geographical constraint
A distributed team provides a wider pool of top specialists from all over the world. We especially recommend considering nearshoring options.

2. Easier access to out-of-box ideas
Having a team of skilled people with a similar background is a limiting factor in taking decisions. A diverse team provides access to a wider set of views, skills and knowledge. Zoryana Drapaylo, Delivery Manager makes the following point: “I worked in a distributed team as a developer and now as a Delivery Manager. My current delivery team is distributed itself. Thanks to all this experience, I can say that diversity (including cultural and gender) is a springboard for creativity and effectiveness provided that each team member has equal possibilities to express themselves”.

3. Adaptability
There are different types of distributed teams. It is possible to combine them within one project, if it benefits the final outcome. Olha Kohut, Team Lead, explains how it can be done:

“I have been with Conscensia for 13 years in total. Five of them I have spent as a Team Lead. During all this time I have remained on the same project and have experienced different mixes of distributed teams. The most common are two types: when all management people are on the client’s side and developers are in the contractor’s office; and when the developer’s team is split between client’s and contractor’s offices. Both types are fine by themselves and will bring value to the project if applied at the right time and for the right purpose”.

4. Cultural diversity
Distributed teams help team members to expand their own horizons. As Halyna Shporlyuk, from Management Team, says: “I would like to stress the positive cultural impact of working in distributed teams. It is a chance to meet colleagues from different countries and expand personal views of each team member. For me, personally, it is also a possibility to dispel myths about so-called post-USSR countries.”

What do you need for a thriving distributed team?

There are four pillars that make a distributed team strong:

  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Respect & Flexibility

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.


The art of managing a distributed team lies in finding a communication formula that works for a given group of people. The challenge is that there is no silver bullet and each team is a separate case. Communication might suffer due to distance, cultural difference and the inability to meet in less formal settings. It’s up to the manager to test as many approaches and tools as it takes to make communication flow smoothly and coherently.

1. Meet in person where possible
Informal contact helps us to see managers, developers and QA specialists as human beings instead of only roles. During such meetings, teams can also work through initial project steps and get to know each other better. Ivan Popovych, Scrum Master:

“If it is possible, people should meet in person. After that we can create communication channels and establish when to use them. We agree when to write an email, chat in messenger or call. It might seem a trivial task but from my experience, skipping this step can lead to a growing tension within the team”.


2. Create an understandable work process
People are more likely to effectively connect with each other when they understand the flow. And, of course, who to ask if they don’t.
Halyna Shporlyuk, from Management Team: “From the very beginning it is vital to establish a clear workflow and define a set of tools and systems everyone will use. This kind of precision will lead communication into the right direction.”

3. Communicate. Communicate more.
For reasons of distance and principally virtual contact, non-verbal signals and informal conversations are almost missing in distributed teams. Just how to keep communication warm and human is explained here by Zoryana Drapaylo, Delivery Manager: “In my team we follow a rule: “Assume less and get in touch more”. It means that we would prefer a non-virtual meeting when starting a new project over meeting each other online, video call over just audio, or at least audio call over an email. Of course, it’s all about the balance. Some information and decisions should be stated in emails and not every issue requires a team call. It is important to explain to all team members what channels we use for different requests.”

4. Organize. Prioritize. Revise
Olha Kohut, Team Lead: “Enhancing and managing communication is a continuous process as people and tasks are often shifted. In my team we communicate through emails, video calls and chats. Video calls are always followed by a written summary, which serves to be sure that nothing has been missed. Of course this rule applies mostly to important calls that influence big decisions. Also we prioritize communication channels by their importance. For example, messages in a DevOps messenger’s chat are the most important and they require an immediate reaction. In other cases, chats are more of an additional feature than a primary channel.”


Distributed teams usually unite people with different cultural, ethnic and gender backgrounds. This can bring additional value to the project and spark a creative process. It might also create grounds for stereotypes. People acting on stereotypical assumptions are more prone to mistrust or double-check each other. The question is: how to control the process without over controlling the team? Halyna Shporlyuk, from Management Team: “I have never experienced trust issues in my projects. We pay great attention to technical skillset, responsibility level and a respectful attitude towards others when sizing up a person for a team. We use team visits, video calls and organize team-building activities to make adaptation smooth for everyone. Seems like there is nothing really new, yet it really works. To track performance we stick to tracking results, instead of the process itself. The team uses one repository, task tracking system, time reporting, and defect tracking system. In that way, it is easy to check results and avoid unnecessary micromanagement.”

The main role in creating the whole team falls on managers. It is their responsibility to nurture team spirit and maintain equal treatment of all team members. Zoryana Drapaylo, Delivery Manager has this to add:

“The manager must treat a distributed team like one whole team. Otherwise, it is very easy to start playing off one side against another and to fall into the “we–they” dichotomy. Broken trust always comes with its price. For example, screen monitoring or clock-in-clock-out trackers might be a widely used method for some companies. But they lead to an exclusively formal attitude to work. I think that warm relationships, trust, a high level of freedom and the feeling of personal responsibility for the result are more beneficial for the distributed team”.

Respect & Flexibility

Cultural differences are not an obstacle for distributed teams if communication and workflow are set right. Nonetheless, distributed work requires respect towards others’ values and flexibility to accept them. Ivan Popovych, Scrum Master: “Each team member enters the team having some previous experience. The trick is that everybody comes with a different background and brings different experiences. We should ground new rules at the new place and play by them. To do this we need to speak, listen, and care about team members.”

Accepting others’ values means understanding ours. Only then it is possible to see differences and ask questions. Halyna Shporlyuk, from Management Team, says:

“Managers and developers should be flexible and open to asking questions and answering them. In my team, we stick to the rule: “Ask if you are not sure”. There are many situations when something might seem obvious to one part of the team and not obvious at all to the other. So, asking doesn’t hurt.”.


If you are thinking about a distributed team and the benefits of nearshoring, with its diversity and wide range of experts – contact us. We know how to distribute, deliver and thrive.