How to Manage Your Remote Software Development Team Effectively
In a nutshell, managing teams remotely is quite a challenge, one way or another. However, considering the current situation in the world, one can’t go without being a pro in organizing the working process from a distance, and doing that, without a doubt, effectively. Even some of the most experienced people in the area might wonder how to manage a remote team without
facing harsh consequences in the means of the company’s performance. Qubit Labs has put together the critical tips to fill the gap in remote work practices and provide you with a kit of top-notch methods that will help your company shine.
One of the most significant problems employees and managers face when working from home is the lack of communication or its absence. When being outside the office, it is hard to imagine what your coworkers are up to and how they meet the objectives. There are several simple rules to follow regarding remote teams best practices, so let’s jump to them.
Engage Constant Communication
While you are on the call with department leaders, individual employees might be clamming up and do some activities not related to work. Take regular formal and informal catch-ups as a rule. Greet people and post the working plan in the group chat with all the employees included, address critical issues via video conferences, finalize each meeting by summarizing the results, and duplicate the information in the group chat. Such activities will enable you to keep colleagues on their toes.
Avoid bringing too much entertainment
This might sound odd and boring, but sooner or later, you might face the situation when one of the employees sends a funny meme in a group chat, and others start discussing it and getting too excited, turning the conversation into a flood. To secure work-related communications from unnecessary information, yet avoid losing team spirit, create an “off-topic” chat for such kind of informal communication. However, keep an eye on it because some developers might go too far instead of writing their codes or fixing bugs.
Don’t forget about feedback
When it comes to managing remote development team employees, the distance might become a game-changer for those coworkers who might have had certain work-related dissatisfaction or issues. It is easier for them to speak up without seeing the interlocutor. You might want to note these kinds of messages in chats, ask the questions yourself, or create an anonymous form for comments. The sooner you understand who or what hinders the overall performance, the sooner you will be able to make it more efficient.
Keep in mind personal connections
Some people might treat this point as unprofessional or insubordination, but that’s the emotional distance between the coworkers that often leads to poor performance. It is essential to create “a shared psychological space”; you can start with small talks about weather, hobbies, or pets, making employees feel more comfortable around each other.
Even if you have a busy meeting, divide five minutes to discuss some off-work topics, ask colleagues about their wellbeing, and remain authentic and realistic. Also, don’t forget to congratulate team members on their birthdays and so-called “workversaries”, and stay on an approachable personal level to consolidate the team spirit.
Utilize Collaboration Tools
It is essential to choose the most convenient programs for leading remote teams to stay in touch with each employee. Some of the most popular and user-friendly tools to communicate with offshore development team you might use include:
- Slack is a convenient corporate messenger for communication and file transfer. It is easily integrated with Trello and many other applications.
- Zoom is a platform for holding videoconferences, which hundreds of people can join.
- Google Docs is a resource for working with documents that allows several employees to leave comments, make corrections, and interact simultaneously.
- Mattermost is a private open-source platform where you create many secured chats.
One of the most important answers to the question “how to manage a remote team” is to ensure the approach that will make the teams work efficiently and deliver the tasks within the deadlines and under the set standards. When it comes to outsourcing, another valuable concept arises, known as time zones. Let’s take a closer look at them and other significant factors.
Everyone has to know about the time zones
If you have two offices engaged in remote development, which are located in, for example, New York and Kyiv, you will need to keep employees informed about the time in another country. In this way, they can plan their work efficiently and won’t try to reach each other out at the wrong time. Also, create a certain schedule, yet make it flexible, so each employee can choose whether it is better for him/her to start the working day at 9 a.m. or at 11 p.m. However, depending on the project, you can provide employees with more flexibility; just make sure they will complete the tasks and remain productive.
Collect reports about the finished tasks
Remote team management implies monitoring the employees’ work and defining whether the employees meet the requirements, are able to complete the tasks, and don’t feel overwhelmed. At the end of the working day or week, depending on the tasks and deadlines, ask the coworkers to send you reports about the assignments they have finished. It would be better to send it via email or insert it into the special table.
Implement out-of-the-box projects
Remote development is often about routine tasks, and it might make the employees feel demotivated or bored. While office work was about going outside, communicating with people in real-time, and being able to discuss everything right away, the routine can’t boast with that. By creating new and unique projects, you will make the employees step outside the comfort zone and cooperate with other departments. It will invigorate them, enhance your remote team management, and give the feeling of constant movement to the professionals.
Provide your team with the necessary resources
Ensure your team has all the technical capacities required for getting the work done without any challenges. You will have to take care of the software and hardware, mobile communication, and high-speed Internet. However, if you work with the vendor, thanks to its expertise in managing teams remotely, it will take care of all the mentioned tasks and make sure each employee works in comfortable conditions. Also, it is essential to find informal leaders and make them your “allies” so they can help you engage each programmer and monitor its motivation and performance.
Focus on the outcomes, not the process
Fairly speaking, it is practically impossible to control each working aspect when managing remote employees. Instead of focusing on how many hours they have or how many tasks they have completed, pay more attention to the delivered results. In this way, you will surely see what the team has been up to and whether its work corresponds to your expectations.
Keep the employees motivated
Another answer to “how to manage a team effectively” is to involve employees in goal setting because then, they will be 3.6 times more engaged in the working process. You can hold performance cycles and individual meetings and focus on reflection to skyrocket the team’s productivity and bring its performance to another level. An employer can also implement a bonus point system, meaning that each person can give bonuses to the colleagues for their help. At the end of the month, a professional can spend accumulated rewards on additional days off or corporate gifts.
Additionally, another secret on how to manage a team remotely is to encourage the coworkers to develop their skills in related areas and, if needed, pay off their courses. Ensure work-life balance and keep in mind the fact that the changes can’t be adequately realized from top to bottom.
Apply 360° method for performance assessment
This method’s essence is that the employee receives the evaluation based on the opinion of “each side.” Namely, not only the manager estimates it, but also colleagues and the employee himself/herself. That’s a useful tip on how to manage a remote team because it helps to define each person’s strengths and weaknesses and create a strategy for enhancing work efficiency.
One of the most critical suggestions on how to manage a team is to educate employees on how they can face the most frequent issues themselves, yet emphasize they can reach you out whenever questions or challenges emerge. Don’t forget about basic human situations when someone feels ill or urgently needs to help their elderly relatives. You should consider employees’ opinions and implement activities oriented at improvement. The role of the ability to listen and the presence of an open dialogue can’t be underrated.
Corporate culture is like a nervous system in the organism. It can’t be touched or seen, but it can be felt. It is vital for the business because it affects the way individual departments cooperate and how productive and flexible the whole company is. Corporate culture is not about dress code, rules, or benefits; it’s in values.
The Most Outstanding Examples of Successful Remote Team Management
Even before the pandemic took place, Google was among the companies that gave its employees the opportunity to work from home before it became commonplace. The company even has a “Distributed Work Playbook,” in which it shares secrets on building successful remote teams. Google mentions, there is no difference in the levels of productivity between in-house and virtual teams; the last ones even have a better ability to prioritize work-life balance. Some essential tips the company shares are the following:
- Create strong personal connections. People who work together will be more productive when they feel comfortable communicating with their coworkers. To establish a friendly atmosphere in the team and make all the employees feel more relaxed, it is effective to have a small talk on various topics instead of immediately jumping to work-related questions. In this way, employees might find like-minded colleagues and establish strong connections with them.
- Make remote team members visible. Using video conferencing tools provide the opportunity to both hear the interlocutor and see one’s body language, which is a significant part of communication. Every member should speak up and share one’s thoughts to make the overall team performance more effective.
- Set team norms. It is essential to provide clear guidelines for work within the team, so the employees can easily understand how they should answer emails or the terms of sending their answers. It is also necessary to mention when members should and shouldn’t join meetings; make everyone aware of the time zones differences.
In general, it comes down to empathy because each employee should value other people’s work and look at the situation from his/her point of view. Thus, according to Google, it is necessary to make your coworkers realize they should focus not only on technical tasks but also on achieving mutual understanding within the team.
Facebook took a huge step forward in terms of remote work and hired a director of remote work. This person is responsible for managing the experience of those employees who work from home. Moreover, the company has announced that it will adhere to the mentioned work model until July 2021. Facebook’s secret of establishing a reliable remote management culture is in making this process cohesive and united, creating a similar working environment for everyone. It is not about designing the same experience as it was in the office. It rather comes down to “help people be successful where they are” and adjust to the existing conditions. Thus, it would be valuable to take the culture of Facebook and strive to create a single experience for all the employees and help them grow.
The company has shared its experience based on the information it has received from its Chinese office and its indicators. It has been suggested that instant messenger helped the team stay in touch and share thoughts immediately, making the process more time-efficient, without writing long letters or scheduling calls. One can’t undermine managers’ role either; the number of 1:1 meetings has increased by 6%.
Apart from discussing the employees’ success and performance, managers asked about their wellbeing to show that the team members are not alone and the company cares for them. Managers started to focus on employee support, which helped to increase collaboration, resiliency, and adaptability. Thus, Microsoft’s main insight is to remember checking on other people, showing support, and staying in touch.
The company has decided to leave some ineffective working standards back at the office and implemented a new strategy. It has abandoned measuring the employees’ performance based on their input. Instead, they focus on the outcomes, but not the process. They reward results, not time in the seat. The company values transparency, especially in terms of feedback, and asks people to share their thoughts regarding its remote policies. GitHub believes that documenting all the processes, writing the remote culture norms, and sharing them is significant for further development.
The company encourages its employees to engage in assistance programs. Namely, there are regular mindfulness sessions to ease anxiety and connect with other employees. It also inspires people to use the time they devoted to commuting to do some exercises. The company also hosts weekly quizzes, video games, and a monthly book club via Zoom.
In this article, we have addressed how to effectively manage a team and reviewed top-notch practices that businesses can adopt. Focus on collaborative environment, effective project management, utilization of communication tools, and employee motivation if you want to see the results within a short term.
Remember that great leadership isn’t about control; it’s about empowering people. If you have never managed a remote team, Qubit Labs will readily help you and assist in finding professional developers.
Feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation.