I got into a conversation a couple of weeks back about distributed teams. It seemed that almost everyone had a story of a team where someone had started working remotely and the results had not been positive.
As I see it, the problem is most people prefer in-person interaction (and this biases decisions about who to communicate with).
This bias results in remote workers being left out and prevents them from contributing as fully as they otherwise could.
When any one person on your team is working remotely, communication within the team needs to be done online - even when you’re right next to the rest of the team.
Otherwise, your remote workers will slowly become disconnected from your on-site workers.
99designs uses basecamp, github, email, an internal chatroom and instant messenging. Chat is the preferred way to get in touch, even for developers on the same floor. As a result, remote workers are looped in despite being spread over several offices in different time zones and countries.