Ten Pieces of Advice for Leading Remote Developer Teams
As it is already established software developers are primarily going remote all over the globe, for various reasons. The topic of remote teams and remote development has been discussed at length, yet there is much more to discuss. There are several challenges in managing remote employees, however, if you stick to the ten pieces of advice this article offers, you will navigate through the quagmire swiftly.
We will go through the challenges and then how to pick through this labyrinth that employers now find themselves in. If you find your rhythm, you should come out victorious on how to manage remote developers on your team – and also get to easily hire remote developers that match your requirements.
Part One: The challenges of managing remote employees
The way of working in the office is fast becoming redundant, and the sooner we realize this, the better. And the sooner we adapt to this – it would be even better.
1. Ensuring Communication lines are open
Employers feel that having developers in their offices would keep communication channels open – not having them there would mean a breakdown in communication. They would have to track individual developers down to share pertinent information regarding any project. Especially, if the developers are distributed globally.
2. Ensuring there is no lax in productivity
Not being able to see what the development team is up to, can essentially make the managers jittery about their work ethics. Whether the team is slacking or working on their assigned tasks.
3. Building trust
If you are unable to see a person every day, building a relationship is extremely difficult. The day-to-day bonding over coffee and the watercooler conversations help build teams and morale – and yes, trust.
4. Hence, no company culture
If there are no people, there is no company culture. That is the fear that managers and owners legitimately have. They want to be able to create a bond that weaves and thrives on their work ethos. When the development team is remote, how could this create a sense of belonging with the company values?
5. Hiring new remote developers
Taking a leap of faith in including a brand new developer is a challenge in itself. Doing so remotely is an even bigger hurdle to cross. As the needed tech talent is already being absorbed in big tech companies, newer and smaller companies are unable to compete with the salaries and/or the perks provided by those giants. Their best bet is to go remote, but how can they ensure a quality candidate that meets their needs and matches their job requirements? The onboarding process, any training if needed, payrolls and taxes, all would be a nightmare.
Part Two: How to lead remote teams
So here are the ten pieces of advice for leading remote developer teams for essentially five of the root problems of challenges of managing remote employees.
1. Set up recurring one-ones
No matter whether you do this remotely, there is a need for constant feedback from managers or supervisors to guide the teammates towards the ultimate goal. Sometimes this should be done on a one-on-one basis to iron out any issues that one of them may have. Doing so in a group may be counterproductive and perhaps not as many issues can be resolved in this instance.
2. Host daily meetings for ongoing projects, and don’t skip the video calls
Daily Scrum goals can be a great way to start the day off, If the team is distributed over several timezones, then one time that overlaps all timezones can be picked to do a quick run-through of daily tasks to be done or done. This keeps the team on track and on the same page where projects are concerned, and cross channels are tightened where issues can be resolved if more than one person is needed to work on them. It mitigates the need for waiting for an issue to be too big to handle. Video calls every other day or at least once a week can also boost a sense of belonging among the team members.
3. Encourage communication
Just because a team is remote or distributed does not mean that they cannot forge a strong link. Make a dedicated space for open communication and one dedicated to work communication. Use technology to your advantage and ensure you’ve communicated with your team about staying in touch and that it is expected of them. Ensure teammates have a safe environment to talk about various things and issues.
4. Keep everyone on the same page
Keeping the above two pointers in mind, it is sometimes good to overcommunicate. Keeping things transparent would work in your favor as an employer, as no one – especially employees – likes to keep guessing about where their projects stand, what the client thinks, is their work worthwhile, and even ambiguities about pay structure and such should be communicated. Confusion breeds distrust, and you do not want that with your distributed team. Be clear and concise, and let people know what they need to know.
5. Set clear expectations and avoid micromanaging
Trust your employees and remote developers and stop breathing down their necks. Especially if it is clear that they work in their times. The more trust you show in your team, and the more freehand you give them in prioritizing their tasks, you will get a good result. Just set clear expectations and goals and measurable KPIs, and the team will manage to make their routes.
6. Celebrate successes
Even if you are distributed, making sure that your software developer teams are appreciated is an easy task. Invest in care packages, or local gift baskets to celebrate achievements and success. Gift vouchers and such also go a long way in showing that you value them.
7. Plan virtual activities
Just like the name suggests, you can congregate everyone over a remote setting and hold game nights and competitions, and throw in some fun prizes to hype the team up. Virtual conferences have gained momentum during the pandemic, and a lot of companies are taking advantage of this. Technology has helped amp up the features, and every day there is something new to discover and embed.
8. Lead with empathy
Zoom fatigue and isolation can be a real bummer and reduce morale in teammates. It is up to the managers to perk their employees up and give them time off to regroup. Even if employees take time off, it has been noticed that there has been no real delay in project deployments, as the team either picks the slack, or the employee works extra hard on the days they do not take off. Because there was trust in the process and empathy in the way things were handled. This shows the employees that the management trusts them in completing the tasks, even if they work in their way. Micromanagement (as discussed earlier) is counterproductive and gets the team no way.
9. Involve the team in selecting new hires
This also shows confidence in the team’s ability to take on more responsibility. It gives them free hand to select partners they would like to work with in the future. If it is a distributed team member, then knowing someone in their circle would be the least expensive way to hire remote talent.
10. Hire a team that can help you hire and manage remote developer team(s)
There are a bunch of companies that have experience with this kind of stuff. They are professionals who can handle the hiring, vetting, training, and onboarding for you. Some even help with ensuring payrolls and tax work as well. To get you started, here is a list of companies that can get you on the road to remote hiring.
Part Three: How to manage remote developers on your team – Conclusion
So to conclude, there is no use in shying away from the fact that the future of work is remote. We need to face the challenges head-on and make the most of the situation and take help wherever and whenever needed. Flexibility is the only way that employees today will be able to work to their full potential. It has been tracked that productivity has increased and churn rate has decreased in companies that have offered their employees and developers to have the freedom to work from anywhere they like. That trust is what now builds loyalty and by extension, the company culture. If you value your employee, they will more than return the investment you made in them.