Effective Methods for Supervising a Distributed Development Team

The recent surge in demand for software developers, coupled with the shift to remote work resulting from the pandemic, has prompted businesses to adopt new strategies such as employing remote developers. While the benefits of working with a remote team are clear, many companies are grappling with managing these professionals – particularly in a hybrid workspace.

At Works, we have deep expertise in supporting businesses with the hiring process, onboarding, and remote management of technical personnel. We know how crucial these steps can be when it comes to the performance and success of development teams.

How to Lead a Successful Development Team with Remote Workers: 7 Essential Steps

1. The Benefits of Collaborating with Dependable Remote Developers

With an estimated 26.9 million programmers in the world, it may seem easy to find one for your project. However, the real challenge lies in identifying the right person who can effectively meet the specific requirements of the job. It’s not just about hiring the “best” developer, but the one who is the best fit for the task at hand.

The first key to managing a development team effectively is to find a reliable and competent employee. Remote work arrangements offer numerous advantages for both employers and employees, including increased productivity, reduced costs, and reduced pressure. However, if individuals are hired who lack the required skills and aptitudes, it can quickly become a challenging situation.

When working with a remote team, it’s important to remember that you won’t have the luxury of physically checking in with them or monitoring project progress in person. You must trust in their competence and ability to deliver on their promises. If you hire someone who you don’t believe can meet the task, it’s crucial to resist the urge to frequently contact them through communication platforms like Slack or Zoom, as this can add additional stress or even lead to feelings of overwhelm.

The success of a team can hinge on many different factors. To ensure that you hire the right employees, it’s crucial to establish an effective recruitment process that identifies the key skills and attributes needed to excel in the role.

When hiring a remote developer, it’s important to evaluate not just their technical skills and knowledge, but also their personality and ability to work well with others on the team. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find more information on sourcing and hiring remote developers on this page – or you can entrust the process to our capable team.

Here are some of the key traits to look for in remote developers:

  • When building a development team, it’s crucial to evaluate candidates’ ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. Clear and articulate communication is essential for team members to explain procedures to one another, as well as to customers and other stakeholders as needed.
  • Since an independent remote developer cannot be closely supervised, it can be difficult to coordinate tasks due to the physical and temporal separation. That’s why it’s critical to hire a remote developer who is self-motivated and committed to achieving the desired outcomes.
  • Effective teamwork is a crucial attribute for any successful programmer. While an individual may possess excellent technical skills, their inability to collaborate with their colleagues and contribute to the group effort can have a harmful effect on the team. When hiring engineers, look for individuals who demonstrate the capacity to work well in a team environment and communicate effectively with their peers.

2. Hiring Remote Developers and Setting Them Up for Success

Onboarding is a critical component to consider when establishing a remote development team. Glassdoor research indicates that a well-executed onboarding program can result in an impressive 82% retention rate. Similarly, research from Digitate has shown that employees are twice as likely to start looking for a new job if their onboarding experience was unsatisfactory.

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Picture hiring a brilliant programmer, only to have them leave soon after because they’re not engaged with your company.

Leveraging our extensive expertise in managing remote teams at Works over the last decade, we recommend setting aside at least seven days for onboarding. This process should entail more than merely completing formalities and ensuring logistical arrangements are in order – it should also include getting acquainted with the company’s values, practices, and overall environment.

The onboarding process presents an opportunity to gain insights into what your new remote developers are seeking to achieve through their collaboration with your organization, while also allowing them to understand your expectations.

As a manager of remote teams, it’s imperative to employ innovative onboarding methods. While providing a tour of the virtual office and outlining the goals and objectives is an excellent initial step, there are additional measures that can be taken to inspire new remote developers. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

3. Approaches for Enhancing Your Remote Developer’s Productivity

Studies have shown that remote workers can be more productive than their on-site counterparts. However, not all staff members with the ability to work from home opt to do so. Consequently, the recruitment process is critical in evaluating a candidate’s soft skills. Once the perfect team has been assembled and the necessary systems put in place, one of the primary goals should be to pinpoint tactics that will boost efficiency and productivity.

If you lack experience managing remote software developers, it’s recommended that you establish a project management platform. Platforms like Asana offer a centralized location to oversee developers’ workflows, tasks, and associated files. This can help you gain insights into their productivity and time management prowess.

When collaborating with a distributed development team situated in different time zones, maintaining communication can be difficult. While texting and emailing are still viable options, video calls are a fantastic way to stay connected when in-person meetings aren’t possible. Tools like Worldtimebuddy facilitate scheduling meetings at the most convenient times for everyone to partake.

Utilizing tools that boost productivity can be especially advantageous when collaborating remotely with a team. Several notable examples include:

  • Slack
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Basecamp
  • Toggl
  • RescueTime

4. Embrace Your Inner Boss and Unwind

At the start of a remote working role, it’s crucial to guarantee that each team member is familiar with the tools, processes, and guidelines. However, it’s important to avoid being excessively controlling and dictating every action. In summary, successful remote leadership necessitates avoiding micromanagement.

  • This is due to the fact that YOU are the one who recruited them (have faith in your choices that they can perform exceptionally well)
  • Relentless monitoring can impede their work progress.
  • Your team members may feel undervalued and burdened.
  • Every individual has their unique approach to accomplishing tasks (some work better at night, while others are more productive early in the morning).
  • Staff members who are consistently being micromanaged are more prone to leaving their job.

To effectively manage a team, you must establish a culture of trust. Here are a few recommendations on how to cultivate trust with your team members: empower them by giving control over their own assignments and initiatives. For more tips on remote team management, check out this article.

Every employee values the gratification that comes with acknowledgement for a job well executed. Nevertheless, as a manager, it’s vital to exceed mere appreciation and help your team comprehend that it’s not solely about individual assignments but also about collaborating to achieve something greater than any individual can accomplish alone.

5. Foster Communication in a Remote Environment

Avoid making assumptions, always seek clarification, and encourage open dialogue.

By consistently adhering to this principle, your team won’t face any issues when communicating.

Disputes are prevalent, especially in remote work setups. In the worst cases, they can result in terminated projects and squandered resources, which is why it’s crucial to establish unambiguous communication protocols.

At Works, we all know how to use various online tools for effective communication and collaboration, such as Zoom for virtual meetings and events, Slack for quick reminders and company-wide announcements, Google Drive and Coda for file sharing, etc. To ensure that we have everything we need and to minimize potential communication hiccups, there are several excellent tools available.

Remember that conducting regular video conferences is the most optimal means for building relationships with your team members and encouraging collaboration. These meetings may cover project updates, suggestions for improvement, requests for assistance as well as casual catchups. These steps can help in fostering mutual trust and openness in conversations.

It’s worth noting that receiving regular updates from developers on the project’s progress should not be deemed as “over-communication,” which may appear like micromanagement.

Minimising the number of unnecessary meetings and emails can be helpful in reducing “over-communication” in remote teams. Instead of depending on unscheduled meetings whenever an issue arises, it’s advised that development teams plan dedicated “focus hours” dedicated to accomplishing a significant amount of work.

Arrange meetings at fixed intervals so that everyone can be better prepared for them.

6. Build a Versatile Workforce

When it comes to managing software developers, we have the solution for you: Agile.

The Agile methodology for IT project management is widely acknowledged as one of the most effective. It not only prioritises the practical aspects of task completion but also focuses on the motivation and mindset behind it. As a manager of remote developers, implementing an Agile approach can enhance communication, collaboration as well as the ability to promptly respond to customer feedback.

What contributed to Agile’s success?

  • Agile is based on a horizontal team structure (eliminates hierarchy).
  • Prior to commencing development, it’s crucial to determine the most significant characteristics of the software (based on use-case scenarios).
  • “Stand-ups” are short daily meetings, in which each team member gets an equal chance to speak.
  • Assemble the team after each project update to discuss the improvements required, additions to be made or unnecessary items to be removed.
  • Simultaneously, planners and developers strive to launch the Minimum Viable Product as soon as possible.

7. Fostering a Sense of Unity is the Seventh Priority.

Maintaining a corporate culture can be difficult when employees are situated in parts of the country or across the globe. The classic notion of colleagues gathering for special events like singing ‘Happy Birthday’ or sharing a beer on a Friday night is alluring, and this camaraderie is what forms a strong company culture.

It is crucial to foster positive relationships within the team, while also maintaining a professional environment focused on achieving goals and delivering results. The success of remote software engineering management relies on more than the technical skills of a highly competent coding team. Encouraging a strong sense of collaboration can help build a favourable environment, which can be challenging to achieve when working remotely. Therefore, it’s critical to keep this in mind consistently.

The following are some recommendations:

  • Ensure that the cameras are on and strive for face-to-face communication at all times.
  • To gain a better understanding of how your employees feel about working for you and identify areas for improvement, conduct feedback sessions.
  • Organise your virtual cocktail hours or birthday celebrations. This may be beneficial for your development team since it would provide an opportunity to listen to diverse viewpoints and examine potential solutions to problems in a simulated social atmosphere.
  • Promote a culture where your employees feel appreciated and respected. As a first step, merely asking someone “how are you doing?” can go a long way.
  • Recognise the efforts of your employees.
  • Oftentimes, all that’s needed is active listening.

Coordinating On-Site and Off-Site Software Development Teams

The following are five strategies to enhance communication and coordination between your off-site development team and your on-site workforce.

Processes Should Be Transparent and Honest.

Managing developers can be done both on-site and remotely, but it is critical to establish communication protocols that keep all team members informed. Without regular team discussions, remote developers may feel disconnected from the on-site team if discussions concentrate on topics they are not familiar with. As a result, it’s crucial to ensure that all members of the team are informed about decisions or issues.

We suggest implementing daily check-ins with your entire workforce, regardless of whether they work on-site or remotely. This will assist in reducing ambiguity about who is responsible for which tasks.

Enable Ongoing Communication

Establishing open channels of communication is crucial to develop and maintain a unified team dynamic among colleagues in the on-site office and those working remotely. Nearly every recommendation for motivating these workers is tied to encouraging better dialogue.

To ensure dependable communication, email should be used. However, if a more connected remote team is sought-after, alternative platforms like Slack and video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype and Google Teams should be evaluated.

Keeping remote developers informed of all relevant changes, no matter how small, is crucial. To maintain up-to-date information, we suggest they subscribe to our company messaging app or corporate communication solutions.

Establish the Rules of Engagement Between the Two Groups.

Settle on a default time zone to be used for all communications. To avoid the challenge of keeping track of different time zones for remote employees located globally, we suggest using the time zone of the main office (e.g., Pacific Standard Time).

This will lower the likelihood of missed deadlines, cancelled appointments, or delayed responses. We should converse about the anticipated limits for sending and answering messages and emails among team members.

Remote employees must complete their tasks within the assigned timeframe. However, it is also crucial that they are reachable and accessible to their team members between 1:00 and 3:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Alternatively, it’s important to let them know in advance that while an immediate response isn’t always necessary, they should be accessible between 9 am and 5 pm the week prior to release. If the time difference between locations makes it challenging to arrange a meeting at particular times, this should be discussed and agreed upon beforehand.

It’s crucial to express expectations for remote workers with clarity and brevity. Having this discussion at the beginning may prevent possible conflicts from arising in the future.

Encourage Your Remote Development Team to Participate in the Fun.

Does your workplace have any established customs for observing special anniversaries or birthdays? Are there any dedicated admirers of a specific film or holiday among your colleagues? It’s essential to guarantee that remote employees are also integrated in such festivities.

Providing for remote workers can be difficult, but there are alternate ways to ensure that everyone is involved. Bringing a cake into the office is one such possibility, rather than ordering and shipping a cake to a remote worker.

A kind gesture to enhance the connection with a remote worker may be to arrange a group birthday card. This will remind them that they are a part of a team, even if in a different place. Alternatively, why not astonish them with a cake or a present that reflects their hobbies?

It is expected that the gesture of being included will be valued, leading to a stronger sense of belonging to the group and reinforcing the idea that those who are remote are still involved in the office’s actions.

Work Gatherings!

Despite the numerous benefits of overseeing remote workers and the prevalent desire for remote work among today’s workforce, some teams may need to boost their morale. Planning workplace gatherings is an excellent way to foster closer connections within the team.

Depending on the meeting’s objectives, a company may want to concentrate on business affairs or organize enjoyable and stimulating activities for the employees to participate in. Ultimately, this will be decided by the company’s requirements. Nonetheless, it’s evident that when remote workers meet in person, the advantages are undeniable.

It’s generally acknowledged that remote workers can have better productivity, wellbeing, and lower stress levels. However, it’s important to remember that working remotely can be a solitary experience and can result in burnout if there isn’t enough social interaction. This is especially relevant when managing a mixture of onsite and completely remote employees because the gap can be harder to bridge through digital means.

Holding regular corporate meetings promotes greater interaction among team members who typically only see each other through a webcam.

Start Building Your Off-Site Software Development Team Now.

If you’re still searching for the skilled programmer you require, contemplate the following.

  • Is it more crucial for you to employ someone in your local vicinity or someone who’s far away?
  • Are you tired of using freelance websites?
  • Are none of the applicants a good cultural match for your organization?
  • Do the applicants who may fulfill your technical requirements fall short because they cannot speak English?

If the majority of your answers were “yes,” you may want to rethink your strategy.

At Works, we take pride in our proficiency in identifying and hiring the most exceptional technical talent. As the most accomplished programmers are typically already employed, we offer appealing incentives like the opportunity to work remotely in order to persuade them to join us.

We’ll help you find an employee who is a perfect fit for your company culture and excels at their professional role. Additionally, we can finish the process in less than two weeks.

Works offers HR services to assist you and your team with this intricate issue. If you aren’t currently seeking engineers but require individuals with expertise in software development team management best practices, please get in touch with us. We can help you manage your developers so that you can concentrate on producing the best possible product.

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