remote engineer

Remote Engineering Teams – What We’ve Learned

#How to Successfully Setup and Manage Remote Engineering Teams

At Zartis.com, we’ve been operating a remote-oriented business with 100+ software engineers. This article is an overview of the main takeaways from our experience and interviews, conducted with our engineers on managing a remote team.

We live in a time where working remotely is a necessity, rather than a choice. This applies especially to engineering teams, be it as a result of current events, due to difficulties hiring onsite or to match the demand of an increasing number of engineers looking for flexibility and possibility to work remotely.

The faster a company adapts to working with a remote team, the bigger its competitive advantage will become. That advantage is equally true now, as it would be long-term to adapt to the changing markets.

 

What are the challenges of remote work?

 

The dissemination of information. // Creating good communication processes. // Building trust.

You want your remote team members to be able to ask questions and get answers as easily as if they could get up and ask a friend at another desk. This is not always possible if you have a distributed team and that desk is thousands of kilometres away. 

This is even trickier at the very start, during the onboarding process and first months of working together with a new engineer or remote team. The first few months are a period of adjustment to working styles and building trust around decision-making.

 

Managing Remote Development Teams Correctly

If you are asking yourself how to manage a remote engineering team successfully, this checklist will be useful to make sure you set your remote team up for success: 

– Using the right tools to enable remote work.

>>Slack or another similar messaging platform is essential, as it has add-ons for source code sharing that allow spontaneous collaboration among remote team members. This makes the development process swifter and it also has both mobile and desktop versions across all operating systems.

>>Zoom, Highfive, Microsoft Teams – any reliable tool for conference calling and screen sharing will do.

>>VPN and centrally-managed equipment as security measures.

– Setting up a good communication process. 

>> A process with public and outspoken communication of changes is essential. It should be complemented with a nurtured public and digital forum where everybody can ask questions and answer others. E.g. Slack and video conferencing. Make sure everyone has the appropriate access to tools and channels within them. 

– Transparent decision making.

>> Ensure that discussions involve all the distributed team members, and that the decision-making process is transparent. E.g. meet online in a virtual room to discuss a problem, demonstrate potential approaches to solving it, or demo the final solution with the screen-sharing feature. Collaborative project management tools and team repositories like GitHub can ease the process by allowing small decisions to be taken in the moment transparently.

>> In cases where someone 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. It is very important to always consider different time zones and set meetings at times where as many team members as possible are online. It is not always possible to cover all time zones and fit everyone’s agenda, but making the effort goes a long way.

Look out for over-communication. Not every decision and every online meeting requires everybody to participate. Consider involving the representatives of teams only. They can relay the information on to their remote development teams.

– Inclusive atmosphere among team members.

>> Well-planned out and thorough onboarding is essential. This plants the seeds for productive long-term collaboration within the team and ensures your new engineers hit the ground running.

>> Team building events. For a remote team to work effectively in the long-term, it’s still highly beneficial to make sure each member has met the others in person. This is a very good practice for onboarding, as well as at least once per year. 

>> Effective team-building exercises can help bring your team together. They can create stronger bonds as well as a more collaborative environment that’s more similar to an in-office setting.
 

– Choosing the right partner.

>> Building remote teams comes in many shapes and forms, whether it’s hiring directly or setting up a remote team through a provider. We’ve been building distributed teams for our clients in all shapes and sizes and will be happy to guide you through the process. To have a chat: albena@zartis.com

 

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 : 

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