This post originally appeared on scottbarstow.com.
In this post, we’re going to talk about how you build out the team. There are generally two approaches: Hire individuals or build out pods. I’ve used both successfully, and you can of course combine the two in any way that makes sense for you.
Hiring Individual Team Members
Just like it sounds, this approach means that you hire the best people, regardless of where they live or if there is anyone else on the team close to them geographically. I’ve seen teams with a single team member in six or seven different timezones. This is how most distributed teams start. If you think of the classic distributed team success stories like 37 Signals, you had Jason in Chicago and DHH in Denmark when they started the company.
There are few things more satisfying than finding that unique talent who fits your team and making the move to add them to the team immediately. But the magic happens when that person has friends.
Building a Pod
One of the first things I ask someone who I’ve hired is “Do you know anyone who’s as good as you are who is looking to make a move?” Invariably the answer is “yes.” The best people like working with the best people, and they tend to find each other in whatever circles they run in. You can then start to build a pod in a given geography. It doesn’t mean that you (necessarily) have to find an office for all of these people to work in, but oftentimes that ends up happening.
I call this “land and expand.” Once you’ve found a core team member or two, you incentivize them with cash bonuses or new equipment to go and find the next members of the team.
Even though you’re building a distributed team, there’s still tremendous value in being able to meet face to face on occasion. By having pods, it also allows you as the leader of the team to visit the team and see more people at once.
The typical distributed team is made up of both individuals and pods. Remember that as you build your team, always be asking your new team members if they know someone else who should be on the team.