Even though transitioning to remote work has its uncertainties, if you do it right you can easily adjust and succeed as a remote software team. You’ll need to know what pitfalls to avoid, and have high levels of self-sufficiency and the confidence to get things done without too much hand-holding. Here are our top tips for staying focused and making sure it works for both you and your company.
Maintain regular contact with your manager and software team. You don’t have to plague them with updates every few hours, but ensure you schedule recurring one-to-one time with your remote team. This not only prevents an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality from setting in, but ensures you get to highlight your achievements, keeps you accountable and gives you the opportunity to flag any problems you’re having. They have the same goal in mind.
Equally important: get to know your team members – hang out a little on Slack/Skype/phone calls. Socialising not only keeps you sane, but well-connected teams are the secret to the success of remote work.
2. Work from home but schedule like it’s an office day
Particularly important if you work from home and haven’t worked in remote teams before. If the temptation to slack off, switch on the TV or leave things to the last minute is too much for you, chances are you’re not cut out for this way of working. While you’re adjusting… Create a professional, designated office space with minimal distractions. Scheduling your day – from the online scrums to the conference calls and the little breaks everyone needs – will keep you focused and remind you that this is your job. While you’re at it, make sure you remind family members and friends of this too – otherwise you’ll be inundated with errand requests or visitors. And working in your pyjamas won’t help convince them – be professional, even when no one’s looking.
3. Get up, stand up, switch off
When your home is your office, it’s easy for your working day to slip into ‘always on’ mode. Build breaks and social activity into your day as a matter of course. Get out for a walk at lunch time. Meet a friend for coffee. Move.
Where possible, have an office you can close the door on in the evenings. Leave your mail-connected phone in there too. Switch off. Stay glued to your desk all day and you’ll soon burn out, physically as well as mentally.
4. Find out what other software teams are doing
When you’re not spending 40-odd hours a week within a close-knit software team, it’s easy to fall out of the hivemind loop. Whether it’s a bit of friendly gossip or insight into how another team is nailing a project, you can miss out of a wealth of knowledge if you’re not party to the day-to-day goings on. That means you need to be proactive: dial in on on some of the ‘optional’ calls and get a sense of who’s who and what’s what. Better still, find out if you can have access to other software team’s projects on whatever management software your company uses – and make it your resource for solutions, troubleshooting and generally seeing how things are done.
5. Expect not just a remote team but a global one
Remote teams are usually operating globally. Get to grips with the time differences on yours fast. Understand what it means for things like deadlines and scheduling meetings – if you need to submit work a couple of days ahead of schedule to ensure team mates in a different time zone have time to review it, do it. And make sure that no one team or person is left with the late-night/early morning dial ins for calls – share the pain.
6. Define success, set goals
Your manager can’t see you, they’ve no idea what you’re up to, so how can you make sure they know how well you’re performing? As you’re settling into your new role, be sure to ask your manager to define what they view as success in your role, how they’ll know if you’re achieving. Get clarity on expectations around communications – how, when, how often – and reporting. And don’t define your day by the hours you put in – measure by what you’re achieving. Set goals, stay focused and enjoy the flexibility that comes with remote work while succeeding in your career.
Establish expectations early on and be organized from the get-go and you’ll be setting yourself up for remote work success from day one.
Zartis.com is a digital services provider helping clients build high performing remote (a.k.a. nearshore or extended software development) teams in Europe. Feel free to get in touch if you are interested in learning more!