If you opted in for a remote team, whether it be a geographically distributed team or an outsourced software team, you are obviously up to speed on the benefits of having an extended software development team. To make sure you can reach your business goals with the support of your software development team, you need to ensure that they are happy in return. This becomes even more important with remote software development teams where open communication can be challenged, resulting in the developer happiness going sideways real quick.
Let’s take a deeper look into some of the unique challenges that could affect the morale and efficiency of your remote software development team. For a successful project outcome, managing the happiness of your remote development team is as important as the technical skills of these remote programmers.
Factors affecting the success of remote development teams:
If you are switching from a majorly onsite working environment to remote working as a team, you may need to review deeply rooted habits when it comes to how you communicate, hold meetings and structure the software development process – allowing your software developers to excel remotely.
Making sure software teams inherit remote work culture properly goes beyond acknowledging the benefits of it. Setting up activities to foster the transition into remote work is crucial. Whether it be temporary catch ups or remote collaboration activities that forces team members to adhere to new daily routines, it is up to the employers to enable change.
For new team members, a well-planned out and thorough onboarding is essential. This plants the seeds for how strictly or loosely someone adheres to the company culture. If developers get a poor onboarding into company values and work ethics, they might not internalize these values.
Time zone differences
Depending on how you look at it and how well you utilize it, working across different time zones can be a blessing or a curse.
Yes, you need to set up processes to ensure an integrated flow within your distributed team. It may seem daunting, but once the process is set, you are looking at potentially having software developers work on your product upto 15 hours a day!
It increases your responsiveness in the face of unexpected problems. On-call team members? No need! You may have an entire team still working.
Lack of effective communication channels
Another leading cause of problems for remote software teams is the lack of tools to enable them to communicate easily. Global teams are most likely to be working with time differences and with cultural differences. So, it is utmost important to make sure that your remote programmers have good relations and tight communication.
Slack, Google Hangouts or another similar messaging platform is essential, as it has add-ons for source code sharing that allow spontaneous team collaboration. This makes the development process swifter, and they also have mobile and desktop versions across all operating systems. Zoom, Highfive, Microsoft Teams, Skype; any reliable tool for video conferencing and screen sharing will do the trick.
Look out for overcommunication though, not every decision and every video conference requires everybody to participate.
Poor dissemination of information
If a company does not have the proper tools to allow open communication, they are about to have some issues when it comes to the dissemination of information as well.
Keeping a good flow of information is not only important for higher level decisions but also in managing the remote software development team. If a software engineer cannot attend a meeting, or a decision has been made between 2 engineers 1-1, make sure to disseminate the information to the rest of the team. Consider the time zone differences and set regular meetings to when as many team members as possible are online. It is not always possible to cover all time zones, but making the effort goes a long way.
A non-inclusive decision-making process
If there is a decision to be made that affects software development, include technical team members in the discussion. More importantly; to avoid speculations spreading through the team due to a lack of transparency, always try to give insights into how you come about to a decision and why you think it is the best way forward. Open a conversation and this will help avoid a top-to-bottom decision making process.
In an interview, we asked one of our Principal Software Engineers, Michal from the Wroclaw office, what’s his top tip for working with distributed teams.
His answer: Create an atmosphere of transparency and nurture it among your team members. Everyone should feel included. Ensure everybody is aware of your productivity tools for the situation when they stumble upon an impediment in their work (knowledge base and similar tools).
Lack of adequate collaboration tools
Besides the proper communication tools, collaborative project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, Asana etc. and team repositories like GitHub can ease the software development process. They allow code reviews and small decisions to be taken in the moment transparently. Agile teams today require online boards for task management to have an overview of how all remote employees are working together towards the sprint goals.
We live in times where software innovation speed is second to none and software engineers today are used to working with platforms and tools to automate some of the production if not a majority of the development process. Provided the adequate tools, your remote software engineers can reduce the delivery time.
At the same time you are enabling continuous learning among your team members. Having a development environment that allows younger team members to learn from the code of senior developers will enable knowledge sharing and increase the expertise of your whole team.
What can you do to keep your remote development teams happy?
Here are some of the best practices for managing your remote development team:
1. Get the whole company on board
Being open and transparent from day one about the reasons for setting up a remote team will help to secure buy-in from the whole company. This will allow existing team members to have an open mind about this transition and help your distributed team with building rapport, integrating successfully and ultimately being more productive.
2. Set Clear Requirements, Goals, and KPIs
It’s important to set clear expectations, if you want to have a dedicated team. Give them crystal clear tasks and goals. Also, make sure that the members of your extended team understand their tasks and the specific KPIs you will be using to evaluate their performance. Talk to your developers at a personal level and set up an issue tracking process if they have any concerns. Having regular Feedback sessions to tweak strategies will help secure success.
Clear KPIs and defined priorities, in particular, have been linked to higher job satisfaction and work engagement, so getting that right will ensure productivity within your remote team.
3. Lead by example
It is basic human psychology to look up to the leaders when setting up the standards for work.
If you want your team to communicate openly, do not hold off information. If they need to take part in online activities to foster remote collaboration, the managers should join as well. If the team is expected to ensure a good dissemination of information, the management cannot afford to make mistakes when it comes to sharing updates with the relevant team members.
Securing the participation of mid-level managers and development team leaders is even more so important, since the product team interacts directly with them more than the management.
4. Meet in person & build relationships
If you are reading this article during the times of the Covid-19 outbreak, this one is tougher to implement right now. However, it’s important to remember for the times the world goes back to its normal pace.
Whether it’s working together or letting your hair down as a team (or ideally both), there’s nothing quite like face-to-face time for building stronger relationships. Pure and simple. Getting the team together, ideally at HQ, is a great way to make the remote team members feel part of the company and fast-track the development of positive working relationships. For some teams it can be as little as once or twice a year and for others it might be monthly or quarterly – ultimately you should find the right level for your team.
How to hire a remote development team with Zartis in 3 steps:
Scope Your Software Project
We begin with a chat about your business and your requirements so we can successfully deliver exactly what you need.
We evaluate your technical and culture requirements together then draft a success strategy, aligned with your goals.
Deploy Your Remote Team
We integrate your distributed engineering team into your workflow then support them to ensure their long-term success.
At Zartis, we can help you build an extended development team from scratch. We will offer you a personalized and cost-effective solution that:
- Minimizes risks
- Meets your project goals and current workflow
- Cuts down on the admin and the red tape
But most importantly, we will handpick the best engineers who will get the job done. Interested?
Drop us a line. We will book you in for a consultation right away.
The Zartis CTO, Angel Benito and Tech Leads, Michal and Antonio, discuss “How to Manage Remote Engineering Teams” efficiently. From comms and processes, to setting the right mindset, our Engineering Leaders share their insights :