As technology continues to advance, the world is becoming more and more connected. Since the worldwide pandemic, remote work is also becoming more common. In software development management, knowing how to manage your team best is essential, whether you’re in person or working remotely.
Due to the pandemic, remote work has become a new norm for software developers and programmers over the past few years. This new norm of remote development teams can bring different challenges than those encountered face-to-face. There are many benefits to having a remote development team and its challenges. This article will overview what having a remote development team entails and how to best manage your team.
What is a Remote Development Team?
A remote software development team consists of developers working from different locations. It can even include other countries and time zones.
Why a Remote Development Team?
There are advantages and challenges to working with remote teams. Overcoming challenges with managing a remote team can result in a fulfilling experience. It can help you, and your team grow and build strong relationships within your organization.
Benefits for Remote Development Teams
There are many benefits to having remote software development teams. You will have access to a larger talent pool, be able to get started faster, and can provide opportunities for flexibility. Having a remote team can also be cost-effective because office space and sometimes equipment do not have to be provided.
Larger Talent Pool
You can access developers and programmers from all over the world. Having a remote team can give you access to employees with more experience or specific expertise you might not otherwise be able to hire locally. When hiring talent with more experience, they can get started on a project with less training.
Get Started Faster with Fewer Costs
Having remote developers means you can get started quickly on projects and tasks with fewer upfront investments in time and money. You may not have to provide office space, equipment, or other costs.
Remote development teams provide unique collaboration opportunities within your organization. Teams can create agility and flexibility. Remote work offers a way to scale up or down your development teams as needed and doesn't require long-term commitments.
Challenges for Remote Development Teams
While remote teams have many benefits, there are also challenges. These can include communication, trust, and time management.
Communication is a vital part of any organization, and when a team is working from different locations and time zones, this can be a challenge. Communication among remote development teams can take extra effort and time. You must be very clear when communicating online to ensure everyone is on the same page and understanding.
Another challenge presented by remote teams is trust. Building trust with a group of people who have yet to meet in person and don't see each other face-to-face regularly can be difficult. An employer has to be confident that team members are doing their work, even when they can't be seen in person. Trusting the group can be challenging if someone is new to managing a remote team. As you build rapport and credibility, your organization will be better for success.
Time management can also be a challenge when it comes to remote development teams. There are generally no set office hours or scheduled breaks in these environments, and losing track of time can be common. To ensure this doesn't happen, team members can set their own "office hours" or working hours to outline times when they are online and working. Staying organized and disciplined helps employees remain productive and complete work efficiently.
In-House Employees Vs. Remote Workers
In-house employees are members of your organization that perform their duties in an office setting or on-site where your company is based. Remote workers perform their tasks outside of an office. They do so from home, satellite offices, or other remote locations.
Remote developers can work from foreign countries. There are differences in how managers lead these different kinds of employees.
Pre-pandemic, the majority of office workers would have been in-house employees. However, over the past few years, this has shifted. By switching to remote development teams, managers have had to adapt their leadership techniques for new situations.
There are some common denominators for effective management for remote and in-house employees. These include good communication, positive working relationships, recognizing good work, being decisive, delegating, mutual trust, and using technology to collaborate and track progress.
How Management Differs
Three main differences in managing in-house employees versus remote employees include timing, communication, and societal.
Deadlines might need to be adjusted for remote workers to accommodate time zones, working hours, and schedules. Managers are to leave time before a project deadline to ensure that every employee has provided their share of the work, whether they are in-house or remote developers.
Communication for remote teams is done primarily through technology and apps. It can take some adjustments if team members are accustomed to communicating across desks and during office meetings. Regularly scheduled team calls and video chats can be key for all collaborators.
One of the most significant benefits of remote work is the personal flexibility it provides! Remote developers might need to set their work responsibilities around childcare and other commitments. In-house teams might be constrained by geographical locations, whereas remote teams do not have this same constraint. Remote teams might have team members from all over the world. Because of this, it is essential to understand societal and cultural differences or possible language barriers.
Best Practices for Working with a Remote Team
Employees and employers must understand the benefits and challenges of having a remote development team. The following are some best practices for managing a remote development team.
Understand Common Remote Challenges
With a lack of face-to-face communication, working remotely can also present some unique challenges regarding human connection. In an in-person office setting, management often uses face time with employees to assess productivity and dedication. It can also be a way to implement a sense of community. When there is little or no face-to-face communication, it can make troubleshooting difficult. Having sensitive conversations can be much more challenging. These are adjustments faced when switching to remote work environments.
Distractions and interruptions can be more common when working with a remote development team away from a physical workspace. This can result in a longer turnaround time for tasks and projects. Employers accustomed to having their employees in a physical space might need help adjusting to the uncertainty of how employees spend their breaks or employees moving around their homes. Employees and employers must cooperate, be adaptive, and be professional.
Communication breakdowns can occur. Communicating over the phone or via video conference can come with misinterpretations of what is being conveyed. Having these breakdowns can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications. Communication through text and email lacks nuance and emotions, which can result in a communication breakdown.
Clear Productivity Expectations
Productivity expectations need to be communicated in every work situation. However, it is vital to establish expectations in a remote setting. Employers must create accountability for performance. This can be done with benchmarks, setting project standards, having project requirements and reports submitted frequently, or using analytics to display employee performance.
As discussed, when an employer is used to managing an in-house team, managing a remote team can be a learning curve. In remote situations, employers cannot see their employee's body language or work area, and employees don't know if and when their employer is available or checking on them. Both sides of the working relationship need to establish expectations and understand and embrace having communication goals and regular check-ins.
The Right Tools
Both employers and employees need the most effective tools to succeed in a remote team setup. The first requirement for the remote working process is having a fast and reliable internet connection. It is also a requirement to have a laptop or desktop that supports video conferencing, such as zoom, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams.
Along with having an internet connection and computer, teams also should have the right software. This can include time tracking, asset libraries, and project management software. Time tracking is needed to help ensure that everyone is "on track." This also helps ensure that projects are moving forward and goals are being met. Asset libraries are necessary so employees can find images and graphics for presentations, infographics, and designs. Project management software is a great way to track what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and project deadlines.
Having scheduled and frequent employee interaction can encourage team building. It is beneficial to have those who work remotely meet once a week through video conferencing, screen-sharing, and even in-person meetings. These scheduled interactions allow employees to review goals and expectations, express challenges, and share progress. This can also let employees ask questions, problem-solve, and discuss possible obstacles.
It can be challenging for employers and employees to monitor progress, even if they have weekly meetings. Regular follow-ups are essential to ensure that projects are completed on time. These check-ins can be achieved through email, weekly reports, or even phone calls.
Tips for Effectively Managing a Remote Development Team
When managing a remote development team, you should rethink your management style. There are different strategies to keep workers accountable, efficient, projective, and satisfied. These strategies include defined work procedures, improved communication, utilizing tracking, staying transparent, and hiring self-organized people. Get to know your co-workers; every team is different!
Defined Work Procedures
Creating defined work procedures is crucial for remote work. There are four basic rules when it comes to managing your teams.
- Your employees need to know what to expect. You can do this by creating clear project guidelines for productivity, teamwork, and accountability. You need to hold all employees to the same standard, whether they are in-house or remote.
- You must clearly communicate what you want to be done when presenting your idea or project. Make sure your employees understand the goals you are working to achieve.
- When you give your employees a clear vision of your project, they can complete tasks and projects quicker with minimal misunderstandings.
- As a manager, you must set clear tasks and give detailed answers. Review the project requirements to ensure you have all the information needed. Respond promptly to emails from your project manager since they are the ones to pass down what you say to the team.
Building rapport with each team member is essential when managing teams. Managers must communicate with their team and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Improving communication can be done in several ways, including scheduled meetings, building personal connections, meeting in-person, rewarding team members, and using collaboration tools.
Including team-building activities regularly at meetings and events can open communication and make teams more comfortable communicating with one another.
It can take time to ultimately understand what is going on in a project. Knowing how long each person has worked or what they are working on may be challenging. Basic productivity metrics need to be tracked so the team can see progress in numbers, objectively understand the capabilities of each employee, and review their value and importance on the team.
Tracking provides a team with everything they need for a performance review. It provides a way for employees to see their issues and start working on them by themselves. It can also provide information for regular meetings and check-ins.
When you don't see someone every day in an office, it can be easy to forget about them. As a manager, you must keep your remote team informed of what is happening in the organization.
Team members must know the organization's goals, decisions, changes, and other important news. Documenting all this information and sending it out to team members is also a good idea.
Staying transparent helps your remote developers understand what success means for your organization and what they need to do to achieve it.
Hire Self-Organized People
Only some people are self-organized and dedicated, which is essential when working remotely. Remote developers should have high levels of self-motivation and must be able to work independently. Workers with solid communication skills, organization, reliability, independence, self-motivation, and honesty will do well in a remote job.
Outsource to an Experienced Remote Team
Sometimes the easiest, most dependable way to manage a remote team is to outsource to an established development team with extensive remote experience. Partnering with a hiring platform, like Talentcrowd, can eliminate many challenges with supervising a remote team.
At Talentcrowd, they are experts at building solid, highly-skilled remote development teams. They have an extensive talent pool, and every developer is screened on their technical capabilities and soft skills to ensure they are the best teammates possible. Each project is analyzed, and all team members are hand-selected based on their qualifications and the project's specific needs.
Developers with Talentcrowd are based in North America, so they are always available during regular business hours when you need them, and the risk of miscommunication is low. They know how to serve their clients well in a remote setting, and all organizational and administrative hassles are taken care of, so you can focus on core responsibilities. Managing an outsourced remote development team is made easy with Talentcrowd.
Remote software development teams are much more common than they were a few years ago. Some benefits and challenges come with having a remote team. Remote software developers can be productive and efficient when managed well. These teams are a permanent part of the technology world. As a manager, following the best practices and tips outlined in this article will help you to manage remote software developers successfully.