Bringing on a Free-Range Programmer

Regardless of whether you are an experienced manager of a distributed team or taking your first steps into employing a remote programmer, one important factor to consider is the selection of the right person for the role. Just as essential as the onboarding process is, it is essential to have a clear procedure and checklist in place to establish boundaries and regulations. Failure to do so could result in difficulties.

What Do Remote Programmers Think Of The Onboarding Procedure?

Researchers from the School of Computing at Clemson University recently surveyed 207 remote developers who have been employed by Microsoft since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They posed the question: “Developers, how did you find your onboarding experience?”

One respondent commented that onboarding remotely is undoubtedly more challenging. My role feels disconnected from the rest of the world since I cannot have meaningful conversations with my colleagues or engage in traditional forms of team building. In addition, it is more difficult to comprehend the wider context of the group as a whole. I had to make the transition to remote working when I was just starting to develop features in a completely new language and environment. This created a lot of unexpected obstacles to learning.

The need for remote access to the necessary software and hardware was highlighted by another respondent. Hardware deliveries are occasionally necessary, and therefore, I must be patient. However, there are times when I require software which is not readily available to me in my home. Additionally, I often do not know which software I require until I have received feedback from someone.

This survey’s findings on the onboarding process for remote developers are summarized in this blog post.

Exactly Why Is It Crucial To Onboard A Remote Developer?

It is essential to effectively onboard remote employees, not only engineers, due to the numerous benefits that this provides. Being able to easily communicate with colleagues and access the necessary resources is essential for a productive and successful working environment. Without this, it is unreasonable to expect employees to remain in a job if their manager does not take the time to understand their background and viewpoint.

It’s not only good manners to give new employees a warm welcome. It’s a plan for expanding your business by using your employees.

Let’s take a look at some data from the Workforce Institute’s 2023 Engagement and Retention Report to get an idea.

Keeping Your Employees

Research has highlighted the important role that effective onboarding plays in retaining employees. Unfortunately, only 21% of those surveyed felt their onboarding experience was successful. 66% of respondents indicated that they would be more engaged with the organization if the culture was improved, and 52% wanted to see increased diversity and inclusion.


Sixty percent of those surveyed reported that they had to request feedback on their initial performance more than once, and 52 percent sought input in order to improve the business culture during the pandemic.

Detachment from the group

When surveyed, 46% of workers reported feeling disconnected from their team after the first month, citing inadequate communication and a lack of opportunities to participate as contributing factors.

In order to enhance productivity and maintain team cohesion, it is advisable to onboard a remote developer. This can save time and effort when compared to the conventional recruitment process and the upkeep of a Human Resources department.

How Often Are Remote Developers You Supervise Acquired?

It is expected that you have a checklist prepared for onboarding a remote developer. If not, it is recommended that you create one to ensure that all necessary steps are taken during the onboarding process.

Which items should be included in your developer onboarding checklist? The essentials to remember are as follows:

  • Collaboration Accord:

    Sending a contract is the most suitable approach. It is imperative to send a contract as soon as possible after a remote hire is made, in order for both parties to be aware of the terms and comprehend the remote employer-employee relationship.
  • Preparation Duties:

    Create a checklist and send it via email to your new remote developer. To ensure that they have adequate time to adjust and become proficient, it is advisable to spread out the tasks on the checklist over the first month. The contract must be signed and the relevant applications for remote working and communication must be downloaded and set up.
  • One should always hand out a manual:

    It is recommended that the programmer be provided with a manual which outlines the company’s policy on remote work. This will enable them to gain a better understanding of what it is like to work and live remotely.
  • Eye to eye:

    The remote developer may learn more about the team by participating in a one-on-one video chat.
  • Mentor:

    To ensure a successful transition to remote working, we should provide the new developer with a mentor from our experienced team. This mentor can help to guide and support the new developer during their first month with us, allowing them to develop a greater understanding of their role and our company’s values.

Advice on How to Hire a Software Developer

Do you think that’s sufficient? Absolutely not! And that’s only the beginning.

Create an Employee Welcome Guide and Onboarding Checklist

It is essential that the necessary arrangements and documentation are in place before considering the recruitment of a remote developer. We recommend reviewing our remote onboarding checklist to ensure that a suitable onboarding template is created and maintained.

Also, always keep in mind:

  • Protection of Teleworkers’ Health
  • Data Security Concerns
  • Home office set-up and supplies provided
  • Policies for Telecommuting Employees
  • Methods of Transmission Policy

It is essential to ensure that remote employees remain engaged and productive. To prevent the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ syndrome, it is essential to liaise with the IT department to ensure any security issues are addressed prior to hiring a new programmer.

Direct Them to Useful Resources

Tools are essential for any job. It is reasonable to expect that any remote developers will be using the tools and methods of their choice. Every team member should have the necessary tools and equipment at their desk in order to complete their tasks successfully.

Your team, however, is already used to using certain tools, therefore your new developer should be conversant with them.

When a new employee joins us at Works, we ensure they receive a comprehensive overview of the resources we use regularly in the workplace. Our various divisions rely on various online services, including Slack, Basecamp, Zoom, Coda and Google Docs, to facilitate remote collaboration and communication. It is essential that our developers have an understanding of these tools to ensure they remain aligned with the rest of the team.

If your team is using Rubix or New Relic to monitor application performance metrics, but your developer is insisting on using Munin or Nagios, that is not an ideal situation. While it is not a problem that cannot be solved, as a team lead, you will need to invest additional effort to coordinate code review and server-side initiatives.

It is advisable for developers working on the same project from different locations to use the same remote pair programming tools. There is a broad selection of options available in today’s digital era. For example, Motepair is a package for the Atom editor that allows remote pair programming with GitHub’s editor, Teletype for Atom, which is developed by GitHub, provides real-time rooms for sharing workspaces and Tuple, designed for Mac users, facilitates remote pair programming with a local developer.

As a new developer, it is important to become familiar with the tools used within our organization so that you can hit the ground running. We therefore recommend that you download the relevant applications as soon as possible and familiarize yourself with them. By having everyone use the same software, communication and collaboration will be greatly improved.

Establishing Goals and Objectives

After ensuring that you have the necessary rules and technologies in place for remote communication, the next step is to set out clear expectations for your new remote developer. You should consider factors such as:

  • When working, would they be required to adhere to standard office hours or their own discretion?
  • Is there any leeway in their schedule, or do they need to be online at certain times?
  • Which metrics will be used to measure success? We recommend assessing the actual outcomes rather than employing one of the more intrusive productivity tracking tools.

It is recommended to allocate some time to consider any adaptations that may need to be made for the new team member. For example, will they be aware of all the terminology used by your organization if they do not speak the predominant language of your company? A dictionary of rare phrases can be useful, however, it is beneficial for everyone to use ‘plain English’.

It is essential that all attendees have sufficient time to review the agenda and any related reports prior to a meeting, particularly for those who do not have English as their first language. Providing a summary of the material to non-native English speakers in advance can help ensure a productive meeting.

Give them a tour of the office, introduce them to everyone, and pair them up with a mentor.

When onboarding a new employee remotely, the same process should be followed as if they were joining the team in-person. After they have read through the Human Resources policies and completed any necessary training, they should be given a virtual tour of the office and formally introduced to the rest of the team.

And who would have thought it possible to do all of this online using Zoom or any comparable video conferencing tool?

It is essential for the onboarding process that the team become familiar with the developer, particularly if they originate from a different cultural background. Despite the knowledge and experience of the individuals, unconscious prejudice may still exist towards those perceived to be dissimilar to them.

It is essential that developers familiarize themselves with the team’s culture and practices. As programmers tend to work independently, this can be particularly challenging when working remotely. To ensure successful integration, we suggest assigning a mentor, arranging for the new employee to meet the staff, and encouraging informal conversations.

The next step in the standard onboarding process is training and/or shadowing, which can be conducted both remotely and in person. Utilizing tools such as World Time Buddy can make scheduling across different time zones easy, however it is possible that you may need to request some flexibility from team members.

Have them begin the first endeavor.

Ensure that the individual they are shadowing or receiving training from clearly explains how to use all the relevant tools, such as those for project management, communication, your version control system, and the #watercooler channel, where all relevant humor is shared. Subsequently, it is advised that suitable work is assigned.

It is understandable to feel apprehensive when trusting a new employee without having the ability to oversee their every task, particularly if this is your first time using a remote developer. Nonetheless, you should have faith in your recruitment decisions and allow the employee to carry out the work for which they were hired.

As a rule, a developer’s initial project is typically a small, independent task; something that can be seen as a real challenge yet doesn’t have any significant repercussions. They will be given the opportunity to become familiar with your version control software, be introduced to your coding standards, and have a tangible outcome as a result of their work. This is a great chance to understand their problem-solving techniques and identify any areas of knowledge that could be addressed at the same time.

Excessively Inform Others

It is essential to ensure regular communication with remote workers. Utilizing the resources available should make it easier and faster to communicate. If it is not possible to get immediate answers, then frequent input is the most beneficial alternative.

It is essential to ensure everyone is informed of progress when working with a remote team. To ensure important updates are not lost amongst other messages, a policy should be implemented that specifies which channels should be used for what. This will help ensure that urgent calls for assistance are not missed.

Daily stand-ups are a common practice in Agile Development Methodology; if your team isn’t already doing them, it would be beneficial to begin. During these meetings, team members can share their progress, any issues they have faced and their plans for the day. This helps everyone stay up to date and encourages teamwork as members are able to gain insights into the efforts of others and provide assistance where necessary.

Please exercise caution when communicating with remote programmers, to ensure they can complete their work without interruption. Your engineers will benefit from the convenience of asynchronous communication technologies in this context.

Lastly, I’d want to stress the importance of encouraging escalation.

As adults, we are aware that procrastination often leads to negative outcomes. However, it can be easy to fall into the trap of putting off tasks, even if we have experienced this situation before. When we were younger, our parents may have become frustrated with us for not cleaning our bedrooms, yet we continued to insist that waiting one more day wouldn’t make a difference. By the end of the week, we had often buried ourselves beneath a mountain of clothing, which at least meant that our parents could not yell at us. This same attitude can sometimes be seen in the workplace, and it is important to remember that procrastination can have serious consequences.

It is essential to maintain open and effective communication to ensure that small details are not neglected or left until they become pressing. There is a risk that the team’s new programmer may become defensive if approached, and this may result in the issue being redirected back to the original source. It is understandable that the programmer may be busy, however the issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

It is important to create an environment of open communication between all parties involved, emphasizing that the company encourages discussion of any issues until they are resolved. This can be an uncomfortable process for some, but it is necessary to ensure that all parties are comfortable with the process.

It is important to maintain a professional and respectful atmosphere in the workplace. A lack of camaraderie can have a detrimental effect on productivity, particularly in development teams where collaboration is key. If there is an atmosphere of hostility or bullying, it is unlikely that team members will be motivated to perform to their full potential. Furthermore, it is essential to have frank and open discussions to ensure the software is free from bugs.

It is important that staff demonstrate kindness and consideration when interacting with customers and colleagues, while also maintaining a professional and consistent attitude to business. Difficult conversations are a necessary part of the job, and should not be avoided. To ensure ongoing success, it is essential that staff continue to develop their skills, as seemingly small issues can have the potential to become major problems.

Interacting with Others

At the end of their first week, it is a good idea to take the new hire out for lunch or a drink to welcome them to the team. This provides an excellent opportunity for team members to get to know each other in a social setting, and should also be considered for distributed teams.

It can be beneficial to allocate some time for informal conversation during meetings. Moreover, it is suitable to host virtual gatherings to commemorate successes, such as the recruitment of a new team member or the completion of a major element of a project. The activities may differ depending on the team, but some suggestions include ordering pizza, wearing Hawaiian shirts and concocting cocktails, or playing Fortnite for a few hours.

The Key to Successfully Recruiting Remote Developers

Hiring the right person is fundamental to the success of any developer onboarding process. Remote working can be extremely beneficial, however it is not suitable for everyone and not all employees would want to do it. We can help you assess whether a potential remote programmer is the right fit for the job.

Assess the candidate’s familiarity with working in a distributed team environment and with remote communication by asking pertinent questions. It may not be immediately evident, but it may require as much or more time to adjust to working remotely as to complete actual tasks. Even if a new employee is not experienced with remote working, this should not prevent you from hiring them; it is essential to understand their abilities in order to create an appropriate onboarding process.

It is recommended that extra time and energy be invested into introducing the new remote developer to the tools, daily reporting, and internal communication tactics. Furthermore, it may be beneficial to arrange team introductions, virtual water coolers, and social events to aid the remote worker in feeling connected to the team.

To ensure a successful onboarding process, it is important to make remote developers feel welcomed and supported. A tailored, individualized approach is beneficial to ensure each applicant is well-placed. Once they join the team, it is time to start collaborating and working together.

Have Professional Help with Finding and Orienting a Remote Programmer

Are you wondering how to find the perfect remote developer amongst the seven billion people in the world? Look no further – we specialize in helping you integrate any external developers you choose to work with.

We take into account technical proficiency, evidence of successful remote working and whether the individual is a suitable cultural fit before offering employment. Our stringent selection process ensures that we can fill positions much more quickly than our competitors.

We are not only interested in a business relationship, but also in providing you with the ideal candidates for your remote programming positions. Our mission is to ensure that you are able to bring your staff up to date with the most modern workplace practices. If you are searching for an exceptional worker, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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