The number of global virtual teams has grown to encompass 63% of all teams in organizations.

For many organizations, this was a choice they got slowly used to in the last ten years.

For the even larger part of companies, the push to virtual teamwork was brought by the 2020 health crisis. This group didn’t have as much time to adapt to the change.

Still struggling to introduce remote work in your local office? Here is a gradual transition method to remote work. 

The first step to garnering a successful global virtual team is to release the brakes that keep you stuck in the local office mindset.

Let’s look at what are the most common cognitive traps for managers of local teams. The answer lies in Matt Mullenweg’s pyramid of autonomy levels in distributed teams. 


Matt Mullenweg's Distributed Work Pyramid for Global Virtual Teams
Matt Mullenweg’s Distributed Work Pyramid. Image Credit:

From a Local Office to Borderless Global Virtual Teams

Apart from rooting for autonomy, this distributed team pyramid by Matt Mullenweg underscores the principles of asynchronicity and effectiveness.

Automation plays a big part in it because it is necessary to make the true shift from ineffective synchronous to effective asynchronous remote work. 

Autonomy, asynchronicity, and automation are the three words you need to keep in mind as you create global virtual teams from a scratch or transform a local office. 

Another reason for taking the Distributed Work Pyramid as an example for setting up a home office is that it perfectly correlates with the flash team structure. 

By incorporating autonomy, high levels of automation, and uninterrupted working across time zones, flash teams are the novel approach to virtual teamwork we love and rely upon at Flash Hub.

The Stairs from Level 0 to Level 5 of Distributed Work   

The Distributed Team Pyramid contains five, or, more precisely, six levels of autonomy, because the transition starts at Level 0 and progresses to Level 5.

Level 0: Jobs that Require Physical Space and Contact

Certain jobs cannot be done remotely. Think of medical doctors, physical therapists, emergency workers, or service workers. 

How much of your scope of work requires the physical presence of the workers in an office working in close proximity? When you can’t rely on them locally, can you replace these jobs with takeaway services or online distributors? This is the first step to take towards Level 2 of the pyramid.

Key departments that can work in a remote home office include anyone working in IT, HR, project management, or clerical and admin services. Can you outsource recruitment or software development jobs to an outside agency? 

How can you survive the recession of 2020 with a novel approach to work? Find out in the video below:

Level 1: Working Remotely as a Necessity

Many virtual teams that work from home nowadays are in the group that still relies on a physical office. They see distributed work as a nuisance or a temporary change until “things get back to normal again”. 

Although a crisis can’t last forever, the time to act and grow your business is now. 

Instead of viewing remote work as an inconvenient obstacle, successful global virtual teams look at working from home as an advantage. 

This is the key moment to make the major shift where you abandon the mindset that keeps you stuck in a physical space and develop a structure that serves your business priorities and goals online.

Here is a video that can help you set up home office habits for effective remote work:

Level 2: Virtual Teamwork as a Habit

If you are reading this article, you are probably somewhere at this level. 

You cannot go back to local work and you are suffering under the pressing demands of working in distributed teams.

Understanding that you need to make certain changes, you try to make better use of common technologies. However, you are still doing the heavy pedaling with your feet to turn the milk into butter. You haven’t picked up the foam yet. 

You use video meeting apps and team communication tools. But, in parallel to their advantages, you face their less desirable traits such as loss of productivity, distractions, and unprecedented work fatigue.

Trust starts to cause anxiety. It makes you strongly invested in the need to control your work environment. Almost half of your resources are spent on dealing with control. Can you do better?

The short answer is yes and it becomes obvious in Level 3. 

For now, learn how to run successful remote meetings in global virtual teams:

Level 3: Reaping the Harvest of Distributed Teams

Level 3 is where you start to see the results of all that churning out. 

If we visualize your business’s adaptation to remote work, Level 3 is the highest point of the slope. Once you climb this point, you have:

  • Learned the ideal project management and communication tools for your team. 
  • Managed interruptions and disruptions without them constituting a large portion of your resources. 
  • Automation tools and workflows are set in place. 
  • Instead of controlling, you lead global virtual teams with greater autonomy. 
  • Set up planning, scheduling, processes, and time management processes with a solid structure. 

You can use this structure in your sleep as Level 4 comes into existence. The move from synchronous communication to asynchronous cooperation is almost over.  

Level 4: Asynchronous Global Virtual Teams

Employees that work as part of a global workforce are full of praise for the remote work benefits to come and leave work as they please. 

In a virtual work environment, attending work takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of bare presence, remote workers showcase their work contribution through results. 

Work results are about the achievement of an objective. If the job is done on time and with quality, they have successfully completed the work. 

Imagine the relief once you free yourself from overseeing your team members for every little detail they produce! 

If you give more autonomy to the distributed team workers and base communication on one-way writing and video tools, you have assured asynchronicity in virtual teams. 

Since you are already picking up the fruits of your labor, you can invest in technology and expert workers that will fully advance your transition to a fully distributed virtual team. 

Here is how to improve the quality of your virtual team as you reach this point:

Level 5: Remote Work Nirvana with Flash Teams 

Matt Mullenweg calls Level 5 of his pyramid “Nirvana”.

This name indicates that this highest level is applicable only to the most successful virtual teams and organizations that consistently outperform traditionally set up offices. 

In the language of enlightenment, achieving nirvana is possible only for the best and the chosen ones. But without striving for impossible goals, you can build a global virtual team that brings job satisfaction, productivity, and growth for you as a manager and for your team members.

The ultimate level of nirvana in global virtual teams equals everyone’s well-being based on autonomous work in a personally chosen workplace and work schedule that suits and fulfills everyone on your team individually.

Hold on – is it possible to care for the individual team benefits and still achieve organizational business goals?It is. 

The ideal team structure encompasses autonomous and asynchronous work, where you have a say in how, when, and what you work.

And all that is impossible without flexibility in how fast and for how long you compile global virtual teams, and how you shape their common goals and measured objectives. 

The core strength of Flash Hub is in the accelerated creation of highly-focused, resourcefully-managed teams of experts driven by a common goal. 

By communicating with a worldwide talent pool and having built processes and workflows that place flash teams in the higher levels of the Distributed Work Pyramid we have set up an effective system to meet our client needs for on-demand workers and projects that produce steadfast growth.

Here are the main secrets for scaling your company or agency with skilled experts form remote teams:

The Shortcut to Successful Virtual Teams

If you find your company in the lower levels of the Pyramid, don’t get disheartened. Focus your efforts on climbing the stairs one by one:

  • Brainstorm about jobs that could be replaced by dispersed teams.
  • Convert your physical space structure, goals, and work meaning into a virtual scheme.
  • Make friends with technology, eliminate interruptions, and optimize workflows by adopting automation tools.
  • Capitalize on the perks of autonomous asynchronous global virtual teams.
  • Extend your outreach to a new client base and grow your company with flash teams.

Take these tips as signposts to steer you on the right path and make your remote team scaling to the highest pyramid levels as simple as possible.

Learn to grow and scale your business with virtual teams and global freelancers with our FREE Virtual Team Starter Pack!


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